Jeremy Bridges has done this before.
Last year, after starting left tackle Mike Gandy went down, Bridges stepped in. His background was at right tackle mostly – although he’s been at both guard spots too – and he acknowledged Wednesday that before playing Jared Allen and the Vikings on a nationally televised Sunday night game, “I had to say a little prayer.”
Bridges said his technique was horrible, his feet were often messed up, his hands were in the wrong place, funny to him at the time because he was praised for the job he did against Allen that day.
He knew he hadn’t been ready, but he never let that show at the time.
“Defensive ends are like dogs – they sense fear,” Bridges said. “You can’t go into a game biting your nails. You have to get your swagger up and act like you know what you’re doing.”
Bridges doesn’t have to act this time. With starting right tackle Brandon Keith done for the season with a torn hamstring and knee surgery, Bridges will flip to the other side.
“Right tackle, this is my craft,” Bridges said. “I can do right tackle.”
Coach Ken Whisenhunt reiterated that he will see what to do with the position as the week progresses, but it would be an upset if Bridges – who was a right tackle starter in Carolina the season before coming back to the Cards – wasn’t the guy.
Bridges has played special teams this season and said he learned from his eight years in the league to be patient for a chance to play. Rather than get miffed he isn’t playing offensive line, he likes the idea the coaches trust him to step in if needed, as he did last year with Gandy.
“I understand the game more, and I understand the decisions upstairs are their decisions,” Bridges said. “Accept your role, be a good teammate, and whenever they are ready, they will call on you.
“It’s like a relief pitcher, sitting in the bullpen chewing sunflower seeds. When they call on you, you better be ready to throw that thing.”
The Cardinals have struggled in many areas this season, but none as much as third down. The Cardinals have had 110 third-down opportunities this season but have converted only 32, or a shade over 29 percent. That’s 30th in the league, ahead of the Bears and Redskins.
Of the 110 third downs, 72 of them have needed six or more yards, making conversions much more difficult.
“It doesn’t matter what the down and distance is, but obviously, if you look at the percentages are better when it’s third and short,” quarterback
Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel came into the NFL despite hardly playing in his college career because he was behind former Cardinal
Matt Leinart on the depth chart. So Cassel was asked what he would have thought the odds were while at USC that he would be a starter in the NFL and Leinart would be third string (which he is for the Texans).
“That’s a good question,” Cassel said. “We should go to Vegas with that question. There is probably one person in the world, maybe my mom, who would have placed that bet.”