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LaBoy, Lutui Earn First-Team Status


 Jerheme Urban (right), here hauling in a sideline pass against Denver cornerback Karl Paymah Friday night, will share time with Steve Breaston as the third wideout.

Kurt Warner wasn't the only one who was named a starter Saturday.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Travis LaBoy beat out Bertrand Berry for the starting "predator" linebacker spot, and that Deuce Lutui would start at right guard over Elton Brown. No single choice was made for the third receiver slot, with Whisenhunt calling it "in flux" and noting that both Jerheme Urban and Steve Breaston would get work depending on the packages.

LaBoy finally beating out Berry was not a surprise, after Berry accepted a paycut to a $1 million salary and LaBoy signed a five-year, $22 million free-agent contract. LaBoy then impressed during the preseason, creating pass-rush pressure that wasn't as frequent from Berry.

"It was difficult because Bert is almost a starter as well, that's how I view him," Whisenhunt said. "In the theme of playing the player who we feel gives us the best chance to win, that's the direction we're going to go. But Bert is going to play, make no mistake."

Whisenhunt added that Brown has had a good preseason and he anticipated him continuing to press Lutui.


If there was a surprise cut Saturday it was the Cardinals letting center Pat Ross go – not because Ross had necessarily impressed, but because starter Al Johnson will miss the first game while rehabbing his knee from surgery. Lyle Sendlein is the Cards' lone center for now.

Whisenhunt said starting left guard Reggie Wells will be the backup center and will work at the position some next week in practice. Brown too will work some at center, although if Sendlein goes down Wells will play center and Brown will move to Wells' guard spot.

Whisenhunt said the Cards felt they would lose backup tackles Elliott Vallejo and Brandon Keith if either were waived, forcing them to release Ross.

Johnson is expected back at practice before the 49ers game, but Whisenhunt said he would be limited.


The left knee injury to starting left tackle Mike Gandy turned out to be a bone bruise, Whisenhunt said. He will be reevaluated next week, but Whisenhunt also said that would come after seeing what Gandy did in practice, which hopefully was a good sign.

The status of defensive tackle Alan Branch (ankle sprain) remains unknown, Whisenhunt said, although fellow defensive tackle Gabe Watson (knee) is expected to finally resume practicing.

Branch started the preseason finale, but Whisenhunt said that was because the Cards' decided not to play 12-year veteran Bryan Robinson in the game.

Contact Darren Urban at Posted 8/30/08.

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