Cardinals’ GM Steve Keim: Tackle ‘is a position obviously of concern’

Sep 23, 2013, 6:17 PM | Updated: 6:17 pm
LISTEN: Steve Keim, Arizona Cardinals General Manager

The faces may change year-to-year, but the issue of pass protection has been a prevalent one for quite some time when it comes to the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line.

It’s an issue, though, that the Cardinals thought they had finally turned the corner on given a few notable upgrades during the offseason.

Following a 2012 campaign in which Arizona’s offensive line yielded a league-high 59 sacks, the unit gladly welcomed the additions of two veteran tackles — Levi Brown (missed last season with a triceps injury) and Eric Winston (signed a one-year deal in July).

Those additions, however, have played more like subtractions so far in 2013.

After their Week 3 loss in New Orleans, the Cardinals have given up nine total sacks — one more than they allowed through the first three weeks in 2012.

And although it hasn’t been all Brown or Winston, as the Saints’ sack party — led by outside linebacker Junior Galette and defensive end Cameron Jordan — illustrated Sunday, the tackle position is quickly becoming a position of weakness rather than one of strength.

“That’s a position obviously of concern,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Monday. “We have to get more consistency out of the players we currently have. If that takes making some changes with the starting lineup, I’m sure that’s something Bruce [Arians] and I will talk about and look into this week.”

While Keim didn’t get into any specifics regarding a shift along the line, the first-year GM added that aside from a few snaps against New Orleans, he thought Winston has more-or-less been impressive through the first three weeks.

And Brown?

Well, instead of focusing on the Cardinals’ starting left tackle, Keim shifted the attention onto one of Brown’s possible replacements, Nate Potter.

“Nate Potter was a guy who was in competition with Levi [Brown] through training camp,” said Keim. “Nate would be the first to tell you I’m sure that there were a few instances where he didn’t step up against the second-team competition he was playing against in the preseason.”

Although the second-year tackle didn’t exactly do a whole lot to instill faith in the Cardinals’ coaching staff during training camp, Keim noted that philosophically he’s not opposed to a team playing young players if more established starters aren’t pulling their weight.

“I’m a strong believer in baptism by fire,” said Keim. “You’ve got to put these guys out there at some point, whether it’s young players or inexperienced players.

“The only way you can replicate live-game action is live-game action. I feel that way about young quarterbacks and I feel that way about most positional players. You can’t replicate the speed of the game in practice like you can on Sundays.”

While Potter is still “inexperienced” in comparison to Brown, the seventh-round pick out of Boise State isn’t exactly a novice at the tackle position. During his rookie year, Potter played in eight games, including six starts.

Arizona Cardinals running back Alfonso Smith (29) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) Arizona Cardinals running back Alfonso Smith (29) dives over the goal line to score a touchdown as New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis (28) and outside linebacker David Hawthorne (57) defend in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem catches a touchdown pass in front of Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) and strong safety Yeremiah Bell (37) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall (28) is tackled by New Orleans Saints strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (32) and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) pulls in a pass over New Orleans Saints strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (32) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (12) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Karlos Dansby after catching a pass in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is sacked by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Sam Acho as Saints tight end Benjamin Watson (82) tries to block in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) pulls in a touchdown reception over Arizona Cardinals strong safety Yeremiah Bell (37) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, right, talks to quarterback Carson Palmer (3) in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saintsin New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) Arizona Cardinals defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (91) wraps up New Orleans Saints fullback Jed Collins (45) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis (28) breaks up a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes as New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) pressures in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes as New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) and outside linebacker Junior Galette (93) pressure him in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks at his play chart in the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (32) celebrates with cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) after intercepting a pass in the end zone in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (32) intercepts a pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore (16) in the end zone in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) 
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) rushes for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. Saints wide receiver Lance Moore (16) and Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) look on. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates after rushing for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. Saints wide receiver Lance Moore (16) and Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) look on. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) is wrapped up by New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis (28) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andre Roberts (12) tries to pull in a pass in front of New Orleans Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) 
New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles (43) rushes against Arizona Cardinals defensive end John Abraham (55) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) pulls in a pass over Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (32) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) reaches over the goal line on a touchdown reception over Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013.(AP Photo/Bill Feig) New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) slam dunks over the goalpost after scoring on a touchdown reception in the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) slides under Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (32) after carrying for a gain in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) New Orleans Saints strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (32) celebrates his interception in the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, left, shakes hands with Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians after an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. The Saints won 31-7. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) shakes hands with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, left, after an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. The Saints won 31-7. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

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