Linebacker Paris Lenon (51) calls a defense during practice.
FLAGSTAFF – Mention a possible renaissance to Paris Lenon when comparing his last two Cardinals years of his career to his previous seven, and you'll get a chuckle.
The inside linebacker, who will turn 35 in November, has always quietly had belief in what he could do. But the last two seasons in Arizona, he's had as many sacks (five), interceptions (two) and 100-tackle seasons (two) has he did in the first seven NFL seasons. He's been an anchor in the defense, far exceeding what the Cards thought they'd get from him when he signed as a free agent in 2010.
"You have to look at the particular defensive scheme you play in and this one is great to play linebacker in," Lenon said. "You get a lot of action. There is a tremendous amount of trust placed in you, and as a true competitor and football player, that's what you want.
"I don't know. Being in Arizona, it's treated me well so far."
Lenon has made such an impact that he was also voted a defensive captain last year. Barring a surprise, he'll start alongside Daryl Washington again this season. The question will become what will happen after that.
One of the reasons the Cards signed Stewart Bradley was to transition from Lenon, but Bradley struggled in his first season. Now Lenon enters the final year of his three-year contract believing he'll keep playing beyond it.
"I don't think I am mentally or physically done playing this game, all right?" Lenon said. "I don't feel like I have shown any signs either way. That's me. Everyone has their own opinion. I feel like I have a good amount of good football left in me. How many years? I'm not sure.
"I would definitely prefer to finish (in Arizona). I don't want to go anywhere else. But that's not up to me. All I do is go out and play good football."
Heading into his sixth season in Arizona, Ken Whisenhunt was asked about if he has changed as a head coach. Whisenhunt said he is always evolving, with a lot of different variables, such has getting through the lockout last year.
"I like to think I became a better coach at 1-6 finishing 7-2, adapting to what we had to do, to try to improve," Whisenhunt said. "I have always tried to find out what the strength of the players are and put them in the best places to be successful. I feel we have done a good job of assessing our players."
Whisenhunt admitted "I'm a little bit old school. I think I resist change with a lot of things." But with today's athlete, change is necessary.
"We have to do things different in camp than we did years ago because of the CBA," Whisenhunt said. "We've had to adapt."
ADDING AN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
The Cards filled their roster vacancy Thursday by signing veteran guard Russ Hochstein, who spend the last three seasons of his career in Denver. Hochstein is going into his 12th NFL season and will be the lone proven commodity among the backup offensive linemen. Hochstein can also play center.