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Bruce Arians: LT upgrade isn't Cards' 'highest' priority

Watching the Arizona Cardinals' turnstile of an offensive line in 2013, one would think it would be the team's biggest offseason priority.

Coach Bruce Arians said the group will be evaluated, but he believes an upgrade at left tackle "doesn't have to be the highest (priority)," according to ESPN.com.

Arians' comments reflect what the coach saw as improved play down the stretch, as his team went 7-2.

"Bradley (Sowell) played OK, and he's going to get better with another year of strength and conditioning," Arians said. "It's not the most glaring need."

To curtail the optimism, we will point out that Pro Football Focus ranked the Cardinals' offensive line dead last in pass-blocking efficiency. The group ranked third-worst in sacks allowed (33) and hurries (161), fourth-worst in QB hits allowed (48) and second-worst in total pressures allowed (242).

Sowell, whom Arians praised, was PFF's worst-rated offensive tackle and didn't receive a positive grade from the website over the final seven games of the season. Sowell allowed seven sacks in 12 weeks after taking over starting duties but none in the final four games.

The Cardinals' improved play down the stretch had more to do with Carson Palmer's progress in Arians' offense than the offensive line. So while the coach downplayed the importance of upgrading the line, we'd still be surprised if the Cardinals entered next season with the same group.

And, unless Sowell improves dramatically in the offseason, he should still have to battle to keep his job during camp.

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