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Cardinals Work With Line Change

Offensive line has new parts, but regular season doesn't wait


D'Anthony Batiste (74), Daryn Colledge (71) and Lyle Sendlein (63) are dealing with the changes on the offensive line for the Cardinals.

Preparation for a shuffle or two started on the offensive line back in the offseason.

It was then when offensive line coach Russ Grimm had his group run a play, and then do it again, with players moving a slot over. Center Lyle Sendlein would get a rep at left guard, left guard Daryn Colledge at left tackle, and along the line.

"So you don't get too comfortable," Sendlein said, "because things are going to change."

There's no question the Cards' offensive line has changed, pretty much from any perspective from which you want to take. It's different from last season, it's different from the outset of training camp, and it's different from midway through the preseason. The Cards have lost a starting left tackle in Levi Brown and a valuable reserve in Jeremy Bridges with season-ending injuries, and are breaking in a rookie right tackle in Bobby Massie and a new left tackle in D'Anthony Batiste.

It's a constant subject with the fan base – for about an hour Tuesday, when the Twitterverse came alive with the possibility the Ravens might cut tackle Bryant McKinnie, he was a popular local request even though he hadn't been (and never was) released – but the true filter won't come until Sunday's season opener against Seattle.

Sendlein has been set in the middle since 2008. Colledge at left guard and free-agent signee Adam Snyder at right guard were always the plan. Once the line seemed to settle down with Batiste and Massie and their current positions midway through the next-to-last preseason game, they earned their spots.

How well it comes together may be the most important offensive question for the Cards, perhaps even more than how starting quarterback John Skelton does behind center.

"They're all professionals," Skelton said.  

Batiste has been in the NFL since 2006. He started four games at guard back in 2007 and while he's never made a huge impact, coach Ken Whisenhunt has been praising his work behind the scenes all the way back to last year when he filled in for an injured Colledge in Minnesota.

The last thing he has wanted to do is make a big deal about his inclusion in the lineup. That was true when he was first elevated to starter at right tackle up in Flagstaff, and it became even moreso once he officially moved to the left side.

"I really don't think about challenges, if there are any," Batiste said. "As a player, I focus on getting better every day. That's it."

The Cards brought in veteran Pat McQuistan as a backup this week. They have to teach draft picks Senio Kelemete and Nate Potter quickly, in case they are needed. Rich Ohrnberger has looked solid in an interior reserve role, but now that Bridges is out, the Cards do not have a backup offensive lineman who was around in 2011. Moves might still be coming next week too, after the Cards assess where they are after a game is played.

Sendlein, who has been an offensive captain the past couple of years and is the anchor of the line, doesn't seem frazzled by any of it. This is who they have, and the Cards' line is moving forward. If everyone has to shift a spot to the left, so be it.

"Nicks and bruises will happen," Sendlein said. "You want to be prepared."

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