On the Edge of Greatness

With an outstanding core of young and talented players, a handful of Cardinals are poised for greatness this season. While last year was a learning experience under head coach Ken Whisenhunt's first season, year two should provide much more familiarity with the system. Brad Wilbricht breaks down which players are on the cusp of something big in this AZRedReport.com exclusive.

While it may be wishful thinking, third-year QB Matt Leinart is due for a breakout season. The former first-round pick has struggled through inconsistent play and injuries during his first two seasons but rededicated himself this offseason. Although there were a few blimps along the way, head coach Ken Whisenhunt was pleased with what he saw from Leinart and fully expects him to be the Cardinals starting quarterback.

Supplied with the tremendous receiving duo of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, Leinart will have few excuses not to perform this season. Armed with explosive playmakers and an improving offensive line, Leinart is in a position to show significant progress.

Although the Cardinals offensive line has struggled in recent years, the team's offensive lineman should continue to reap the benefits from working with coach Russ Grimm. Grimm's guidance was apparent in the second half of the 2007 and should be even more evident this year.

While GM Rod Graves has managed to acquire talented lineman, they had a knack for underperforming coming into last season. Upon Grimm's arrival in Arizona, he's stressed the importance of awareness and work-ethic in the trenches. In addition, Grimm's focus on fundamentals and technique should continue to help the Cardinals offensive line blossom.

OT Levi Brown
(Greg Trott/Getty)

The offensive lineman with the potential to experience the most growth is OT Levi Brown. Brown, entering his second season, was the fifth overall selection in the 2007 draft. He immediately contributed as a rookie and has shown exceptional development. Brown was forced into on-the-job training last year but should see the benefits of his experience this season. Furthermore, another offseason working with Grimm will allow Brown to raise the level of his game in 2008.

While the Cardinals defense features playmakers such as SS Adrian Wilson, LB Karlos Dansby and DT Darnell Dockett, fourth-year CB Eric Green could be the key to the team's defensive success. The Cardinals need a shutdown corner and Green possesses the necessary attributes to provide them with one. Although great things are expected from this year's first-round draft pick Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, he'll need time to develop his upper-body strength to compete with NFL receivers.

Green is a fluid player with excellent size and speed. Up to this point in his career he's been slowed by injuries, including a season-ending groin injury last year. If he's able to remain healthy, he and fellow starting cornerback Rod Hood could develop into one of the top cornerback tandems in the NFC.

Contact Brad Wilbricht at bwill5025@msn.com

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