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Max Starks Added For Offensive Line Depth

Posted Aug 1, 2014

Notebook: Abraham back soon; two kickers remain

Veteran Max Starks (No. 73) was signed on Friday to back up the offensive tackle spots.

For the second consecutive year, the Cardinals went to the well early in training camp to add a veteran offensive tackle to the roster.

Last season, Eric Winston came in, won the right tackle spot and started all 16 games. Former Steelers stalwart Max Starks was signed on Friday, but this is a different situation.

While Starks is a 10-year veteran with plenty of starting experience, coach Bruce Arians envisions Starks’ role as a quality backup in case of injury. Jared Veldheer is entrenched as the starting left tackle, while Bobby Massie – who lost his job to Winston last year – still has a firm hold on the right side.

“Last year we were not sold we had a right tackle,” Arians said. “Right now, I feel very confident in Bobby. He’s having a great camp. This is more of a swing. Eric could not swing. He was a right tackle only. Max has played left for a long time and he started out at right. It’s just quality depth for us.”

Starks, 32, started consistently for eight seasons in Pittsburgh, including all 16 games at left tackle in his final year in 2012. He was released by the Chargers at the end of the 2013 preseason. He signed with the Rams but only saw action in two games.

Starks played for Arians, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and assistant offensive line coach Larry Zierlein in Pittsburgh, and he said the terminology here is very similar.

“I think it speeds up the process,” Starks said. “There’s that whole feeling out period, especially when you’re coming into camp behind everybody else. I think it makes a lot more sense and makes it a lot easier. Having a good relationship with (Arians), I played in that system for eight years, so it’s very comfortable.”

Massie and Starks have worked out together the past two offseasons, and Massie said it was good to see his friend, but was also happy to hear his job is not in jeopardy at this juncture.

“It’s reassuring (Arians) likes me at that spot,” Massie said.

The signing of Starks puts pressure on backup tackles Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter. Arians said Potter is having “a very good camp” and that Sowell is “doing OK, but not as well as he should.” Offensive tackle Cory Brandon was released to make room for Starks.

“It’s a quality player, and we’re always searching for guys who are still available who we think can add depth right now and build a roster that injuries won’t matter,” Arians said. “That’s really where we’re at right now. You want to give young players all the benefit of the doubt, but once you know they can’t help you, it’s time to build the depth in your roster.”

ABRAHAM EXPECTED BACK SOON

Linebacker John Abraham, absent from training camp thus far, is expected to return in the next five or six days, Arians said. Abraham was arrested for a DUI in Georgia in June, but Arians has declined comment on whether the arrest has to do with Abraham’s absence.

Abraham released a statement on Friday, which said: "First, I want to apologize to my family and friends, the Cardinals organization, my teammates and the fans for letting them down. I understand the significance of my actions and right now I am taking the necessary steps to handle my personal business. I am very thankful for the support from my family, friends and especially the Cardinals organization during this time in my life. I am looking forward to being back with my teammates in the near future.”

KICKING COMPETITION DOWN TO CATANZARO AND FEELY

The Cardinals also released Danny Hrapmann on Friday, one of three kickers fighting for the starting job in training camp, in order to sign outside linebacker Derrell Johnson. Johnson is an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina.

Hrapmann’s departure leaves veteran Jay Feely and rookie Chandler Catanzaro to battle for the kicking duties.

“Danny was having a really good camp, but it was just a matter of numbers,” Arians said.

Arians said the battle between the two could go down to the third or fourth preseason game.

“Most of the guys on that field are battling for a job every day, and you deal with the pressure,” Feely said. “You understand you have to perform. That’s the reality of being a professional athlete.”

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