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Lenon Looks Ahead

Veteran linebacker and captain doesn't dwell on past

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Linebacker Paris Lenon makes a defensive call in the huddle Sunday against Carolina.


As Paris Lenon left the practice field Wednesday afternoon, he was not the quiet stereotype he has been labeled. The Arizona Cardinals linebacker was talking non-stop with two teammates.

"Don't get me wrong, I do talk," Lenon said. "But I'm not one for a bunch of idle conversation. So when I say something, it matters."

The Cardinals are listening. In only his second season with the team, Lenon was voted one of their captains  His leadership and lead-by-example demeanor haven't gone unnoticed.

"He's a good football player, and he does it the right way," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I think he is a great example for our younger players. You want guys that show the younger guys how to do it the right way."

He did Sunday against the Carolina Panthers - the team that originally gave him a look but released him in 2000.

Lenon led a spotty defense with eight tackles and in the final minute of the fourth quarter stopped Carolina running back Mike Goodson one yard shy of a first down to seal a 28-21 victory.

Nothing new there. Lenon has had more than100 tackles in three of his past four seasons. He led the Cardinals in tackles last year.

His preparation and on-field performance reflect his off-the-field interests. In his free time, Lenon enjoys watching heist-themed television shows like White Collar because, he said, they make him think and are not laid out for the viewer.

Sounds suspiciously similar to how an offensive coordinator wants to hide his next move from an opposing defense.

The Cardinals defense did not meet the challenge of stopping rookie quarterback Cam Newton Sunday. He threw for a rookie record 422 yards.

The defensive breakdowns, Lenon said, were due to Cardinals mistakes. "Not to take anything away from our opponent, because they made some great plays, but a lot of the mistakes - we created those," Lenon said. "We just got to get back to the detail and play smart football."

Lenon has made a name for himself, if not found a steady home, for 10 years in the NFL. His longest stay with the four teams he has played for: four years with Green Bay. His work ethic and attitude have never changed addresses, however.

"It's just part of it, it's part of the territory," Lenon said. "You can moan and groan, or you can go out there and play. I go out there and play."

This drive is part of Lenon; his self-confidence is his calling card.

The Panthers acquired Lenon as a free agent rookie out of Richmond in 2000, but waived him two months later. Lenon spent the rest of the season watching the NFL on TV while working a job in the United States Postal Service automation department.

Two more teams - the Packers and Seattle Seahawks - signed him in 2001 but he was released by both.

Lenon's vagabond journey included stints with the XFL Memphis Maniacs and NFL Europe's Amsterdam Admirals before he finally stuck with the Packers, where he played in 64 games, including 16 starts, from 2002 to 2006.

Lenon doesn't look back these days. He's looking forward to Sunday's game at the Washington Redskins.

"How are we back on that? That's old," Lenon said about his past. "I know what I am capable of doing. I don't have any doubt in myself, and I'm going to show you what I'm about."

Lenon has done just that. And burned an ear or two in the process.

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