Whisenhunt draws Rams-Steelers parallel

NEW ORLEANS -- The 2010 Arizona Cardinals didn't play well enough around their young quarterbacks to get the most from them.

Their division rivals from St. Louis fared better along those lines. And with Sam Bradford under center for the Rams, there was greater potential to realize.

"He had the good fortune of a team that was growing around him and would grow together," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said Tuesday over breakfast at the NFL owners meeting. "That is the same thing that happened for us in Pittsburgh in '04."

The Steelers intended for Tommy Maddox to start at quarterback for them that season, but an injury forced rookie Ben Roethlisberger into the role.

"Ben was an outstanding football player and an outstanding athlete," said Whisenhunt, who served as the Steelers' offensive coordinator that year, "but there are things about the NFL that you have to learn. We had a good football team around that and we grew together."

Whisenhunt expects more along those lines from the Cardinals in 2011. He's hoping the growing pains young players experienced last season will position them to make significant strides this season. But with no starting quarterback in place and a lockout shutting down offseason preparations, the Cardinals find themselves in a holding pattern for the immediate future.

"Whoever is under center for us, we are going to be better able to support that," Whisenhunt said.