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7:56 AM Thu, Oct. 18th

Arizona lacking veteran tight end

PRESCOTT (AP) ­ Whoever becomes the Arizona Cardinals' top tight end is going to have a career year.

That's a virtual lock even if Eric Edwards returns from a chest injury to reclaim the job. Signed as an undrafted free agent from LSU last year, Edwards played regularly on special teams but didn't make his first catch until late November and finished the season with five. That's five more than the other candidates combined.

This year, Edwards tore a pectoral muscle early in training camp and will be out at least two more weeks.

"He feels like it's getting stronger," coach Dennis Green said. "He's using a little bit more range of motion in the lifting process, so hopefully, he will be able to get some preseason in."

In the interim, the Cardinals will open their exhibition schedule Saturday against Dallas with Aaron Golliday, who spent last year on Kansas City's practice squad after playing in NFL Europe, as the starter.

Golliday and rookie Adam Bergen may share playing time with the first offensive unit.

"When we use two tight ends, which we do sometime, they'll both be in the game," Green said. "Bergen, he's done well. You're always going to find some guys that were not drafted that come on and look pretty good, particularly in that tight end position. So we're pleased with them.

"John Bronson will be the third guy to go in, and he's also done a pretty good job."

Behind them are Bobby Blizzard, a Cardinals practice-squad veteran with experience in the European league, and rookie Andy Stokes, signed Tuesday for depth.

None has caught a pass in an NFL game, but all had some credentials that caught the Cardinals' eye.

Bergen, a two-time Division I-AA All-American, had more than twice as many catches (54) as the next-best receiver at Lehigh last year, going for 684 yards and eight touchdowns.

Bronson switched from defensive end to tight end before his senior year at Penn State to help out the team, and Blizzard made the all-NFL Europe team after catching 34 balls.

But the 6-foot-4, 279-pound Golliday, trained as a collegian in Nebraska's physical system, is the best blocker, and that carries weight in Green's three-wideout offense.

"Golliday is probably a better blocker than down-the-field pass receiver," Green said. "But, you know, our stretch comes from the three receivers. We don't really use the tight end to stretch the field a lot."

The Cardinals had Freddie Jones last year, Green's first with the franchise. He caught 45 passes, but Green wasn't satisfied with his blocking.

Golliday saw action in the Chiefs' exhibition games last year, "usually in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter," and endured the practice-squad routine of watching regular-season games from the stands. The year before, he was out of football, so he is relishing the thought of lining up against the Cowboys.

"It'll be a good time for me to get some snaps and some full-game experience as a starter, something I've never gotten before," Golliday said.