Is Another Trojan Starting Job Up For Grabs?

Whispers are growing louder that Elton Brown is pressing Deuce Lutui for his spot atop the depth chart. Sandwiched between fellow AZ draftmates Matt Leinart- who lost his role at No.1- and Leonard Pope- whose No. 2 sees equal reps with more production- the junior will need to play his best game yet. AZ Red Report asks Lutui about Leinart's situation and looks into Lutui's future in his home state.

Right guard Deuce Lutui is the first to say that USC Trojans are Trojans for life.

"It's always good to have that fraternity," Lutui said. "It's a good thing, you are a Trojan anywhere."

So what happens when your college teammate, your brother in the crazy world we call the NFL is sidelined after losing his job to a 37-year-old quarterback looking for a second chance? And to add insult to injury, it's your job to block for the veteran?

"Well, it's just one of those things," Lutui said. "It's competing, and Kurt got the best of it. Matt's done a great job of being a teammate as far as moving on from that fact. Like when we are coming off (the field), he's telling us what the defense is doing and what we should be alert for, so he is surely playing his part as a teammate. We enjoy it out there. We are just playing the game."

Playing football and getting paid for it has always been appealing to Lutui, but it's questioned whether he is playing to the standards that the Arizona Cardinals offensive line needs to be held to. He's been prone to make errors that Coach Ken Whisenhunt has described as, "bonehead."

Whisenhunt is looking to get rid of the slip-ups that allowed the Cardinals to lead the league in penalties last year and are surprisingly pretty apparent this season as well.

The Cardinals sampled the sweet taste of success with a 2-0 start, but will now climb an uphill battle with a 2-2 record and a schedule packed with talented East Coast teams. Lutui has looked good as of late. He has the talent to be one of the top linemen in the league, but he needs to really hone in on what a starting role requires.

"Lutui's inconsistency has been a problem and hasn't helped the offensive line block for Kurt Warner or Matt Leinart," expert Chris Steuber said. "Lutui is (in) his third season, and by all accounts this is the season you know whether a high draft pick has a chance to become a starter, backup or journeyman."

Deuce Lutui

Perhaps the layers of talent at USC hid Lutui's flaws or maybe his poor quick judgments will be a distant memory when he steps up this season. Two things are certain: the competition from Elton Brown is a good thing for both Lutui and the Cardinals, and second in order, but not in importance, is that Lutui is a survivor through and through.

Lutui has learned to acclimate fast both on and off the field. In the football view, Lutui went through Utah and Arizona's own Mesa College before he enjoyed the spotlight at USC where he showed his versatility quickly.

"I played my first year at right tackle and I started there on Matt Leinert's blindside," Lutui said at the 2006 NFL Combine. "I asked to move to left guard and switching from right to left, it's a job so you have to do it. I adapted real quick."

Lutui's childhood had severe valleys and peaks. He came from a supportive family where his parents never missed a football game, but early on an accident seriously injured his mother, brother, father and prematurely took the life of an older sister. He worked at a younger age than most and helped pay the bills because he knew English better than the rest of his family.

He's worked hard to get where he is. Lutui's lifetime goal was to have the career he has now. He dearly loves what he does. The competition from Brown is just another battle Lutui should see the other side of.

Amberly Richardson can be reached at

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