Cards bring Whisenhunt back for second interview

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, one of the hottest candidates during the current NFL hiring cycle, will meet a second time with Arizona officials on Friday, as the Cardinals continue their follow-up round of interviews aimed at finding a successor to the deposed Dennis Green.

League and team sources confirmed to ESPN.com and to ESPN's Chris Mortensen that Whisenhunt was to arrive in the Phoenix area on Friday, the second candidate called back by the team. Whisenhunt originally met with Cardinals executives last Friday.

Whisenhunt, 44, remains a candidate for the Steelers opening and for the Miami Dolphins vacancy. He also interviewed for the Atlanta Falcons job, which went to former Louisville coach Bobby Petrino.

Cardinals vice president Rod Graves said earlier this week that the team had reduced its list of candidates and would summon finalists for a second round of interviews. Houston Texans assistant head coach Mike Sherman, the former Green Bay Packers head coach, had his second interview with the Cardinals brass on Thursday but was not offered the job.

Graves declined to say how many candidates will be brought back for second interviews, but the number is believed to be three or four. Unless the Cardinals widen the search unexpectedly, Green's successor will come from the group of candidates interviewed the first time over the past week. Among the others in that group were Tennessee offensive coordinator Norm Chow, San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.

That the Cardinals have called back Whisenhunt for a second session is not surprising, given that his first interview with Arizona executives was said to have gone very well.

An Atlanta native who played collegiately at Georgia Tech and then played tight end for the Falcons for four (1985-88) of his nine NFL seasons, Whisenhunt certainly seems a good fit for a Cardinals team that is loaded with young offensive talent.

A fearless play-caller and adept at creating advantageous matchups, Whisenhunt has been Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator since 2004. Under his stewardship, the Steelers offense statistically ranked No. 7 in the NFL in 2006. The Steelers were 16th in 2004 and 15th in 2005, when they won Super Bowl XL.

Although some perceive Whisenhunt's strengths as the creative use of formations, motion and personnel packages, he also believes in a power-based running game.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.