Brown and Bridges were the only experienced ones for the Arizona Cardinals, however. Now, both will enter the 2012 season on injured reserve.
Brown will miss the entire season. Bridges' situation remains a bit murkier. As Darren Urban noted, the veteran swing tackle tweeted Sunday that he was heading to injured reserve after suffering a torn thumb ligament requiring surgery.
New rules allow teams to designated one injured player for a return after Week 8. I would expect Arizona to save that designation for a more valuable player. As much as the Cardinals couldn't afford another injury at tackle, the drop from Bridges to a veteran free agent might not be severe enough to warrant waiting out this injury. It's also possible Bridges will need a full season to recover.
Bridges, 32, owns 55 regular-season starts. He brought a nasty edge to the line, the type coaches value. Bridges' finest moment in Arizona came when he stepped into the lineup against Minnesota during the 2009 season and battled evenly against Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. The Cardinals allowed zero sacks in that game. It was the first time Bridges ever started at left tackle.
Once a torn triceps felled Brown, the Cardinals appeared likely to enter this season with D'Anthony Batiste at left tackle and rookie Bobby Massie on the right side. Bridges was there as insurance for both spots. Without him, rookie seventh-round choice Nate Potter becomes the only pure tackle among the Cardinals' backups.
Batiste owns four career starts and none since 2007.