Positional Analysis: Offensive Guard

Reggie Wells is set at left guard for 2009, but questions surround fourth-year veteran Deuce Lutui. The Cardinals currently possess several backups at guard, most of whom have the ability to play different positions along the line. Andy Bishop evaluates the battle that will ensue for roster spots.

After switching between guard and tackle his first three seasons in the league, Reggie Wells found a home at left guard. The former sixth-round pick in 2003 has started all 16 regular season games the last three years. He and left tackle Mike Gandy form a solid duo on the left side of the line.

Wells will again assume the role of starting left guard in 2009. Arizona's coaches have been satisfied with his progress, particularly in the area of run blocking. Although not an elite guard, Wells is a menacing run blocker who does a good job of protecting the quarterback as well. Of course, there is still room for improvement.

Lining up opposite Wells is fourth-year guard Deuce Lutui, who has not totally lived up to expectations. Throughout his career Lutui has been guilty of mental mistakes resulting in flags being thrown his direction. This was again the case for Lutui during the first half of 2008.

The Cardinals do like that Lutui performed better later in the season, and that he was durable enough to play every game in 2008. Lutui is still the Cardinal's best option at right guard, but he must continue to improve in several areas in order to maintain his starting job.

If either Lutui or Wells goes down with injury, the Cardinals will call on versatile veteran Elton Brown. While he can play either tackle or guard, Brown is more productive at guard. Brown did not start a single game in 2008, but appeared in all 16 regular season games and all four postseason games.

Arizona added significant depth at guard via the 2009 draft. In the fifth round they selected Herman Johnson. The big product from LSU will likely spend his rookie season learning the game from the bench. The Cardinals love Johnson's size and his surprising agility, so he should make the roster. Johnson can play either guard position, and may even work at tackle during training camp.

Trevor Canfield was the Cardinals seventh-round pick. He was a nasty, physical right guard during his days at Cincinnati, but will have to beat out several others to earn a spot on the roster. He must improve his technique to make it at the pro level. If he has a strong training camp he should at least make the practice squad.

Ben Claxton is the final player with a legitimate shot to make the 53-man roster. His ability to play both guard and center will serve him well in his pursuit to impress coaches during training camp.

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