While in Pittsburgh, Ken Whisenhunt watched the Steelers play a 3-4 alignment on defense. It’s been a popular theory that the Cardinals will themselves switch to such a look.
But Whisenhunt said Wednesday during the NFC coaches breakfast at the Arizona Biltmore the Cardinals will be a 4-3 team — although there will be “elements” of the 3-4 philosophy.
That makes sense, given that defensive ends Calvin Pace, Chike Okeafor and even Bertrand Berry could be used as linebackers in certain situations.
Whisenhunt also emphasized the need to use Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson as a blitzer and said the Cards will incorporate some of the zone blitz packages the Steelers made famous.
“You’ll see a couple of different fronts, a couple of different packages off the blitzes that will help keep people on their toes,” Whisenhunt said.
The coach added he has had to tell defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast to “get out of my office” because Pendergast has been so excited to talk about the new defensive schemes.
“I like the direction we are going defensively,” Whisenhunt said.
In what comes as little surprise given his history with offensive line coach Russ Grimm, Oliver Ross — who had played himself out of favor and onto the bench under the Dennis Green regime — will be the team’s starting left tackle when the Cards hold their first minicamp in mid-April.
“We’re going to start him out there and see if he can handle it,” Whisenhunt said.
Reggie Wells will be the right tackle at first, although the draft will dictate where Wells (who could also start at guard) will play.
The Cardinals are still hoping to sign free agent offensive lineman Mike Gandy to help with depth, although Gandy remains unsigned while the sides remain far apart in money.
Quarterback Matt Leinart has plenty going on in his life outside of football, from a son to endorsement deals to the fun a young, rich millionaire can have.
But Whisenhunt said he has already learned that when it is time for football, Leinart is single-minded.
“He’s got a lot going on,” Whisenhunt said.
“But the one thing that I’m impressed with is he can block everything out and focus on football. He can tune it out.”
Whisenhunt acknowledged he is a “little bit” concerned about linebacker depth. The team is still budgeted to sign a few veteran free agents for small salaries, and the door would seem open for free agent linebacker James Darling to return. …
Whisenhunt wouldn’t rule out carrying just two quarterbacks (Shane Boyd is the probable third-stringer), but “I wouldn’t like to do that, unless (receiver) Anquan (Boldin) really lives up to what he says about throwing the football.” …
Longtime Cardinals treasurer and chief financial officer Charley Schlegel is expected to announce his retirement in the upcoming few weeks. …
Whisenhunt, the Georgia native who used to work the Masters scoreboard at Augusta National as a teen (he has also played the course five times), was a member of the trio that won the NFL’s golf tournament held at the Biltmore.
“Know what I got for it?” Whisenhunt said.
“ 'Atta boy.’ ”