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Levi's Future

Posted Dec 29, 2011

Notebook: Whisenhunt says tackle has played well; Peterson sits again

Left tackle Levi Brown must have his contract addressed this offseason.

Levi Brown didn’t take long to self-evaluate his season.

“There was too much up and down,” the left tackle said, noting that it was the same for the team.

Brown would like a chance to be a part of the redemption in 2012, but that is anything but a certainty. His salary cap number next season is $16.9 million, a figure unwieldy for any player but that before taking into account Brown’s struggles through his career. The number comes about in the final year of the rookie contract Brown signed as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2007 draft and was always meant to force a renegotiation or release.

The Cardinals will have important decisions to make at both starting tackle positions – right tackle Brandon Keith, who has battled significant injuries the past two years, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.

“Money really dictates a lot in this business, and obviously there has been a lot of talk of what is in the contract next year and what’s going to happen,” Brown said. “I’m just going to let it play out and what happens, happens. I would love to be here for the remainder of my career. I love the organization. But if I’m not, that’s just how the cards played out.”

The Cardinals have not said anything about their plans for Brown. Some have speculated he restructures and returns to the right tackle spot he manned from 2007 through 2009. The Cards could also just move on from Brown. A thoughtful man, Brown knows all about the criticisms that have swirled around him.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt was emphatic that Brown has played well over the second half of this season, however.

“From what you hear or see, people don’t think he’s lived up to the reputation of where he was drafted,” Whisenhunt said. “I will speak on this year. He’s done the job we drafted him to do. Whatever has happened to get him to this point really doesn’t matter. He’s playing good football for us now and I respect that.

“There has been a lot of pressure on him because of where he was drafted. Young players sometimes take a little longer to get going, but if you ask a lot of our opponents, if you ask a lot of people who watch this game, about how Levi has played this season, especially over the last half of the season, he’s played well.”

The Cardinals don’t have a lot of tackle options for 2012 as it stands now. They will have Jeremy Bridges, and figure to bring back D’Anthony Batiste and undrafted rookie D.J. Young. Keith has been a project since being drafted in 2008, but the Cards have to decide if he still has potential.

“It creeps into the back of your mind,” Keith said. “I believe in myself, I’ve just been injury-riddled. I feel with my skill and my talent, I won’t be left out too long. I’d love to be here, but things change all the time.”

NOTHING CHANGES FOR PETERSON, KOLB

It is unlikely the Cardinals have either quarterback Kevin Kolb (concussion) or cornerback Patrick Peterson (Achilles) for Sunday’s game. Kolb was again limited in practice and Peterson again didn’t practice at all.

Asked directly if John Skelton would start at quarterback Sunday, Whisenhunt wouldn’t budge from a “We’ll see” stance. “Everybody else seems to say that but I haven’t said it yet,” Whisenhunt said.

Peterson said “we’ll see how it goes” at practice Friday, but he wants to be smart, even with the potential of returning a fifth punt for a touchdown and owning an NFL record.

“I don’t want to risk my health to go after a record that I can maybe go after next year,” he said with a smile.

RHODES RETURNS IN LIMITED WORK

Safety Kerry Rhodes (ankle) did practice on a limited basis Thursday and, depending on how his ankle responds overnight, is hopeful to do more Friday. Keith (ankle) remained sidelined and he will likely miss another game, leaving Bridges as starter.

Safety Sean Considine (foot) was upgraded to a full practice. Running backs Beanie Wells (knee) and LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring), along with safety Rashad Johnson (knee) remained limited.

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