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Offensive Line Sticks Together

Posted Sep 29, 2012

Much-maligned unit making progress during Cardinals' impressive start to season

The offensive line (l to r) taking a break on the bench: LT D'Anthony Batiste, LG Daryn Colledge, C Lyle Sendlein, RG Adam Snyder and RT Bobby Massie.

The reality, Daryn Colledge said, is that the Cardinals’ offensive line has yet to play its best yet.

That’s also given the veteran guard a great sense of optimism. If the Cardinals’ offense can improve during a 3-0 start with the offensive line still finding itself, the possibilities as the line progresses seem encouraging.

“In this business there’s not leeway for anybody,” Colledge said. “(People said) we were the worst offensive line in the NFL and the worst team in the NFL. But I feel we had a lot of guys who were willing to step up and make something happen. Again, we are still growing as an offensive line.”

The Cardinals try to remain undefeated Sunday when the Miami Dolphins visit University of Phoenix Stadium. How their offensive line holds up is and will remain one of the crucial parts to how the Cardinals play out this season.

The unit “still has a long way to go” in terms of working well collectively every play, center Lyle Sendlein said. That was bound to happen after adding backup D’Anthony Batiste in at left tackle following Levi Brown’s season-ending injury and rookie Bobby Massie at right tackle. Sendlein remembers the days when the Cards never seemed to get hurt back in 2008 and the first part of 2009 and the five-man unit not only played all the time but was synched perfectly with quarterback Kurt Warner.

The learning curve remains with Batiste and Massie and even with quarterback Kevin Kolb.

“We’re getting better,” offensive line coach Russ Grimm said. “We’re nowhere near where we need to be yet. We’re working at it.

“It’s a good bunch. They play hard. They try to do what I ask them to do. When we go to camp, I tell them, ‘It’s your line.’ You can’t start looking to see if you are 3-deep or 4-deep or 2-deep. In reality, you’re one play away from playing.”

Grimm echoed Sendlein’s sentiments that the line is still learning to work with the new tackles. The pass protection, in part thanks to Kolb’s newfound pocket presence, has been good – five sacks in three games – although everyone would like the running game to produce better than three yards a carry.

There was a feeling of accomplishment late in last weekend’s game against the Eagles when running back Ryan Williams was able to run effectively as the Cards tried to bleed the clock late. Grimm, however, doesn’t want the unit to get ahead of themselves.

“Hey, we’re only three games in,” Grimm said. “You never know what’s going to happen. NFL stands for Not For Long, and something’s going to change, probably sooner rather than later.

“I think they trust each other. And they care getting better. The wins are nice but it’s not like we are putting up 150 yards rushing or keeping the quarterback completely clean.”

Sendlein, who has been a captain for three seasons, just wants the group to operate as a single entity. “Even if we screw up, if we screw up together we still have a chance to have a successful play,” he said.

But there is a belief in the locker room that the unit has improved. Kolb can’t praise them enough when asked about them.

“The thing I like is they are warriors,” Kolb said. “Some of them are beat up and you haven’t heard a thing about it. You don’t even have to worry about them anymore. That’s all you want as a quarterback and a unit, guys who go up there and battle for you. They are the epitome of that.”

Colledge chuckles when talking about the criticism, acting almost as if it as inevitable, something the line was always going to have to fight through. It can have a benefit, he said.

“Anytime you take a position and slap them and tell them they are terrible and continue to push them down, it makes that unit tighter,” Colledge said. “We are a close group as it is, but every week, when you feel you have to fight out of a corner, that’s going to help you out. We will hopefully continue to be bashed and continue to be considered the weak point on this team. That’s right where we want to be.”


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