Cards bolster linebacker corps with Brinkley

TEMPE, Ariz. – The Cardinals no longer have depth issues at inside linebacker. The team signed former Minnesota Viking Jasper Brinkley on Thursday evening, one day after adding former Redskin Lorenzo Alexander.

Brinkley will likely slide into the starting role alongside emerging star Daryl Washington, although Alexander has reportedly been told he’ll be given a chance to compete for the starting job, and the Cardinals also have four-year pro Reggie Walker under contract.

The Cardinals cut free-agent disappointment Stewart Bradley recently, and the two recent signings are also a likely sign that the team will not attempt to bring veteran free-agent Paris Lenon back. Lenon started most of last season. Bradley, meanwhile, has landed in Denver.

In his third NFL season in 2011, Brinkley became a full-time starter for Minnesota, and in 2012 he 117 tackles (74 solos), two sacks and three forced fumbles while starting in a career-best 15 games at middle linebacker. However, Pro Football Focus noted that the 2009 fifth-round draft pick missed one tackle for every 5.7 he attempted — the worst efficiency of any middle linebacker last season.

Brinkley’s signing likely ends the pursuit of free-agent linebacker Rey Maualuga, who already visited. Cornerback Antoine Cason of the Chargers made a free agent visit Thursday, and Raiders defensive end Matt Shaughnessy is reportedly visiting the team on Friday.

The club also must decide the fate of quarterback Kevin Kolb by Friday at 1 p.m. Arizona time, after which he is due a $2 million roster bonus.

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