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Becht Enters Tight End Battle


Anthony Becht, here making a catch for the Rams in 2008, became the latest veteran to come to Arizona to help the tight end position Thursday.

Since coach Ken Whisenhunt's arrival, the Cardinals have been searching for the right tight end. Thursday, the team brought in another candidate.

Veteran Anthony Becht was one of three players signed to one-year contracts, and he will join Stephen Spach, Ben Patrick and Leonard Pope in fighting for a spot on the Cardinals' 2009 roster.

The team also signed center Donovan Raiola and defensive tackle Rodney Leisle, while agreeing on a contract to bring back reserve offensive lineman Elton Brown – also on a one-year deal.

The Cards' search for a tight end goes back to the free-agent period of 2007, when the Cards tried to sign Bengals tight end Reggie Kelly before being rebuffed. Patrick emerged from that year's draft class. Veteran Jerame Tuman was signed last offseason but never became the blocking force the team had hoped, while Spach was a midseason replacement that became the team's top tight end before a season-ending knee surgery in the playoffs.

Injuries hampered all four of the Cards' tight ends last season. Spach isn't expected to be back on the field until training camp.

Becht has history with Whisenhunt, after Becht was a first-round pick of the Jets in 2000 while Whisenhunt was an assistant coach there. Becht played five seasons in New York and another three in Tampa Bay before going to the St. Louis Rams in 2008.

Becht, 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, had just six catches last season but played in all 16 games for the eighth season in a row. His teams have had seven 1,000-yard rushers in his nine NFL seasons and Becht has 178 career receptions for 1,450 yards.

Brown battled Deuce Lutui for the starting right guard job in training camp of 2008 before Lutui eventually kept his spot. Brown had filled in well at both guard and tackle in 2007, reviving what had been a disappointing career up until that point as the Cards' fourth-round pick in 2005. He appeared in every game for the Cards in 2008 but mostly as a special teamer while the Cards' starting five offensive line stayed healthy for all 20 games (16 plus four in the postseason).

Raiola, the younger brother of Detroit center Dominic Raiola, finished the 2008 season on the practice squad of the Seattle Seahawks. He has also spent time on the practice squad of the St. Louis Rams.

Leisle has played in 17 games in the NFL after originally being drafted in the fifth round by New Orleans in 2004. He was cut by the Giants after training camp last season and has not appeared on a regular-season roster since 2006.

Contact Darren Urban at Posted 3/19/09.

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