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Rebuilding The Line

Posted Jul 27, 2013

Cardinals adding pieces and sorting through blockers up front

The offensive line, including RT Bobby Massie (70) and C Lyle Sendlein (63) during practice at camp.

Harold Goodwin noticed it rather quickly.

Soon after he was hired as the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator, Goodwin watched the video of his new team’s offensive line. He saw things he liked and things he didn’t, but by time he turned the tape off, the list of negatives was far longer the list of positives.

It was time for change. And change has been made.

“Anytime that you go through a season these guys went through last year, obviously there’s going to be some change,” Goodwin said. “And obviously we want the best five guys out there to protect the quarterback especially that we have (quarterback) Carson (Palmer) now.

“The biggest thing I would say about last year, there were a lot of injuries, which happens around the league. The next man up has got to be the issue no matter who goes down or who’s in.”

Guard Daryn Colledge, who moved from the left side to the right in order to make room for first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper, compared it to a grenade going off last season. Some games, the depth chart some went as deep as third string. Players were lining up in foreign positions.

The depth was shot. The cohesion eroded. The Cardinals allowed 58 sacks last season and saw two of their four quarterbacks get knocked out of games.

It all led to a rebuilding.

When the Cardinals don pads for the first time during training camp Sunday, they’ll have a front five and backups that are making Goodwin a breath a little easier. Levi Brown is back after missing last season because of a triceps injury. Right tackle Eric Winston was added this week. Cooper was drafted in the first round, although he is not yet in camp because he remains unsigned.

The depth is already producing its own consequences, mainly competition.

Coach Bruce Arians said neither of the tackle positions have been decided upon. It’s open season during training camp, but there won’t be any cross pollination on the line. Brown, who’s been running on the first team at left tackle, will compete with Nate Potter. Right tackle Bobby Massie, who also practiced with the first team this week, will attempt to fend off Winston’s charge.

“They’re not just going to give it to him,” Massie said. “I’m going to have to work for it. I’m happy to do it.”

Arians won’t play favorites at camp, but admitted he’ll be content with whoever wins the right tackle job.

“I feel very comfortable right now that we’ll come out with a really good right tackle and a really good backup,” Arians said.

Since he was hired in January, Arians labeled Brown an “elite” player. As camp kicked off, however, the coach pulled back the curtain and said the line looked better on film than on the field – Brown included in that group.

But Arians was consistent throughout minicamp and the start of training camp that he won’t decide on offensive linemen until they practice in pads. That’s when Arians will see how healthy Brown truly is. Brown said he won’t know how far his tricep has healed until he needs to punch through a defender with his arm.

Even though Brown didn’t play last season, he expected changes to be made because of all the criticism the unit received. Colledge was very honest when he said the line was one of the Cards’ weak links last year.

But that adversity helped the 2013 version of the offensive line gel.

Massie said the group is closer this year than last. It’s practicing better and executing more efficiently.

Lyle Sendlein, the unit’s veteran center, has already seen the benefits.

“Just everyone’s attitude and understanding that coaches don’t care who you are and what you’ve done in the past,” Sendlein said. “They care what you do now and put on film now. It’s definitely lit a fire under everyone’s behind.”


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