Sinking Cardinals to go with rookie Potter at left tackle; other changes might be coming

The Cardinals are going to give rookie Nate Potter a shot at left tackle, and coach Ken Whisenhunt says more changes might be coming as Arizona looks to end a five-game losing streak.

A seventh-round draft pick — 221st overall — out of Boise State, Potter entered Sunday's game at Green Bay early, replacing D'Anthony Batiste.

"Very impressed with what Nate did for us yesterday," Whisenhunt said Monday. "I think it was a good time to make that switch with him in there, and based on what I saw off the tape, it merits moving forward ."

Now, Whisenhunt says he and his staff will take the upcoming bye week to see what other changes might be warranted.

"We're not going to be afraid to make a change," he said. "That's what you have to look at. If it gives us an opportunity to get better and not stay the same, then that's what you have to do, because we've been inconsistent and we're looking for more consistency. When we play consistent football, we're a pretty good football team."

Unless the Cardinals make another move on the offensive line, Arizona would have rookies starting at both tackle spots when it resumes play at Atlanta on Nov. 18. Fourth-round draft pick Bobby Massie has been the starter at right tackle.

The offensive line has been a constant sore point throughout the season. When left tackle Levi Brown went down with a season-ending injury in the preseason, Arizona chose to move the well-traveled but seldom used Batiste from right to left tackle, then insert Massie at right tackle.

The results were not pretty.

The Cardinals have allowed 41 sacks in nine games. No other team has given up 30. But the protection for quarterback John Skelton was vastly improved in the 31-17 loss to the Packers. Skelton was sacked twice, the fewest given up by Arizona since allowing one in its season opener against Seattle.

Potter, slowed by a sprained ankle in training camp, has toiled away on the scout team as the situation went from bad to worse on the line. Whether it's a measure of Potter's improvement or the Cardinals' desperation that the move was made is open to speculation.

Adding Potter to the line will have a cost.

"You know you are going to have to live with some things," Whisenhunt said, "just like he got beat on the one inside move by Clay Matthews, but he did a nice job on a bunch of other protections where he kept guys out. He's worked hard on the scout team in getting his reps, and he's paid attention, and he's healthier now than he was."

Whisenhunt cautioned, "it was just one game."

Skelton, the coach said, was far better than he was the previous week against San Francisco. This time, he threw for more than 300 yards and led a comeback that cut the lead to 24-17 in the second half.

Green Bay put the game away with a 72-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to a wide open Tom Crabtree.

Running back Beanie Wells, out with a turf toe injury, is eligible to return to practice this week but can't play until Arizona is home against St. Louis on Nov. 25.

There was no word on the results of an MRI on the ankle injury sustained by outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield.

The Cardinals practice Tuesday and Wednesday before taking a long break for the weekend. Meanwhile, the coaches will take a step back from game planning to take a long look at a team that started 4-0 but is now mired at 4-5.

"This gives us a chance with some of our players, to evaluate them over more than a one-game or two-game or three-game period," Whisenhunt said. "You can look at a body of work and say we're not getting it done and we're willing to make the change and go with the next guy and see what he can do to help us. We already started that process yesterday with Nate and it worked out for us, but I think you have to be careful. That's one game. You don't want to make wholesale changes, because at times we've shown to be a very good football team."


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