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Cardinals rookie wealthy, but not starter yet

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Levi Brown is finally in training camp with big new contract. Now comes the hard part for Arizona's first-round draft pick, winning a starting job at right offensive tackle.

"I was drafted pretty high, so everybody's expecting me to start," Brown said after arriving in camp on Friday. "But that's a position I have to earn. It's not going to be given to me. Oliver Ross is in front of me right now and he's not going to give up his job."

The 6-foot-5, 323-pound lineman out of Penn State was the No. 5 pick overall. He signed his contract and underwent a physical exam Friday morning in Phoenix before traveling up Interstate 17 to Flagstaff, where working out at a 7,000-foot elevation will be a new experience.

"I'm behind," he said. "I mean, I missed what, seven practices? So I have some work to do. I understand it's a little harder to breathe out here, so I'll be behind in that sense as well, but it will all come around."

Brown's six-year contract has incentives that could make it worth $62 million, but several of those escalator clauses probably are beyond his reach. Just over $18 million is guaranteed.

He said he tried to push his agents to hurry up and get a deal.

"It didn't take as long as Matt's, so I guess I did pretty well," he joked, referring to Cardinal quarterback Matt Leinart's two-week holdout a year ago.

Brown said he planned to help out his parents.

"I'll help them pay off their mortgage and other bills so they don't have to work anymore," he said, "let them live the life they always wanted to have until they had two kids and we spoiled it a little."

As for himself?

"A house, a car to get around, that's about it," Brown said.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Brown missed some valuable time.

"We've got a lot of stuff done in the first week," he said, "so it's always tough, especially with a young player coming in here, to try to play catch up."

The basics of the new offense have been installed.

"You always worry because there are so many things that go on the first week here in learning because you've already taken your time in installing it," Whisenhunt said. "Now things start going a lot faster, especially since we're getting ready to play some preseason games."

Ross played for Pittsburgh when Whisenhunt was offensive coordinator but had a tough season a year ago after signing as a free agent with the Cardinals. Brown was acquired to bolster an offensive line that had been the team's biggest weakness.

Brown played left tackle in college but free agent acquisition Mike Gandy is entrenched at that spot. So Brown was moved to right tackle will have to overcome his late start to take the job away from Ross.

"If he earns the right to play, then he'll play," Whisenhunt said. "Oliver's been doing a good job, and the one thing that's important to this football team is we have competition, and the best players play."

Brown should be a quick learner. He has two degrees from Penn State - in labor and industrial relations and in psychology. He also participated in the summer minicamps and so-called "organized team activities."

The rookie said he's ready to prove he deserved to be such a high draft pick.

"I've had to prove myself my whole life," Brown said. "People thought I could never play football. They said I was too soft. That's why I started playing in the beginning, so I always had something to prove."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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