On Cards' surprise change at right tackle

August, 14, 2012
8/14/12
10:31
AM ET
Finding a starting right tackle shouldn't be all that difficult, but NFC West teams have had their share of troubles.

St. Louis used the second overall choice of the 2009 draft for Jason Smith, but Barry Richardson, a 2008 sixth-round choice released by Kansas City, has served as their starter most recently.

San Francisco seems to have gotten it right with Anthony Davis, but the price was relatively high: the 10th overall choice in 2010.

Seattle used a 2011 first-round choice for James Carpenter, only to settle on Breno Giacomini, a 2008 fifth-rounder signed from Green Bay's practice squad, as its starter.

The Arizona Cardinals, having previously moved 2007 fifth overall choice Levi Brown to the left side, are the latest NFC West team to shuffle personnel at the position. D'Anthony Batiste, 30 years old and now on his sixth NFL team after stints in AF2 and the CFL, replaced journeyman Jeremy Bridges with the starters in practice Monday.

Rookie fourth-round choice Bobby Massie was expected to contend for the starting job this season. He still might.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt has lamented the Cardinals' pass protection through two exhibition games. I re-watched the first-team offense against Kansas City, looking for evidence that Bridges was struggling more than the others. Nothing stood out from the first few drives.

Bridges and Brandon Keith have served as the Cardinals' starting right tackles over the past two seasons. Keith had knee troubles last season, landed on injured reserve and is currently out of the league.

Moving rookie offensive linemen into the starting lineup can be difficult, especially for a team that hasn't invested early draft choices in the position. Massie was a fourth-rounder. Arizona hasn't used an early choice for a lineman since selecting Brown in 2007.

The Rams started rookie Rodger Saffold in 2010 and enjoyed early success. The Seahawks did it with 2010 first-rounder Russell Okung and later with Carpenter. The 49ers did it with Davis and Mike Iupati. Four of those five were first-round picks. Saffold was the first player chosen in the second round. Arizona simply hasn't made that level of investment, one reason the team is left with Bridges and Batiste as primary options.

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