Cardinals notebook: Brown, Branch gaining confidence - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Cardinals notebook: Brown, Branch gaining confidence

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Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2007 2:40 am | Updated: 8:06 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Ten practices into their NFL careers, the Cardinals’ top two draft choices still haven’t moved into the starting lineup. But both tackle Levi Brown and defensive tackle Alan Branch are gaining confidence, if not rungs up the depth chart.

Brown has the biggest transition, moving to the right side after playing the left side in college.

“I told you (media) it wasn’t going to be that difficult but to myself, I said, ‘It’s going to be pretty tough,’ ” Brown said. “Now, though, getting in the right-handed stance, it really hasn’t been that hard.”

Branch has been working hard on his technique, and said the Cards (for now) are leaving him exclusively at nose tackle rather than trying him at defensive end.

But Branch noted defensive line coach Ron Aiken has repeatedly said, “Nose is the same as end, you are just a little further off the ball” and is having Branch memorize the plays for defensive end.

“If I only play nose, I only play nose, but if they want me anywhere else, I want to be prepared,” Branch said.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn’t been able to get a good evaluation of any of the linemen since players cannot wear pads or hit much. Any move into a starting role for either Brown or Branch likely won’t come until training camp.

That’s OK with Brown, who is still adjusting to NFL life while living with one-time college teammate Bryant Johnson.

“Right now, Bryant just told me to stay in my (play) book,” Brown said. “I got to get a house, financial adviser, a car, all that stuff. Bryant is saying ‘Don’t worry about that right now, worry about the job.’ ”

FINDING HIS ROLE

Steve Breaston’s hardest transition from college? The heat.

“I’ve never been any place this hot in my life,” the receiver and fifth-round draft pick out of Michigan said Wednesday, during a relatively mild May afternoon.

Breaston is a native of North Braddock, Pa.

Drafted in large part because of his return abilities, Breaston has been inconsistent at best as a receiver thus far. But he said he has benefitted from watching Pro Bowlers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.

Still, Breaston will have to make a mark on special teams to make the roster, even if he isn’t considering himself the favorite to be the punt and/or kickoff returner.

“I don’t know where I am at right now,” Breaston said. “I act like I have no job. I just go out and practice and compete.”

ONCE UPON A SUMMER

Whisenhunt recalled summer workouts when he was playing back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There weren’t “organized team activities,” just players getting together trying to stay in the NFL.

“It wasn’t a structured environment,” Whisenhunt said. “(Redskins coach) Joe Gibbs insisted a lot of his players be there, and it was something you had to be there or you were at risk of losing your job.”

Now, Whisenhunt added, “With the structure and the 14 days (of voluntary OTAs), it gives you a chance as a coach to have an understanding what you can put in.”

EXTRA POINTS

Both Johnson and tight end Ben Patrick are not practicing because of bad hamstrings. Patrick still has not practiced since being drafted and Whisenhunt said he wasn’t sure when Patrick got hurt, only that Patrick must have done it “just before the draft because I was unaware of this before he came in.” Patrick may be out another week or two. ...

As expected, quarterback Matt Leinart was back at the voluntary workout Wednesday after missing Tuesday.

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