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Right Side Of The O-Line Equation

Posted Mar 28, 2014

Goodwin feeling confident with offensive line changes, but waits to sort out final spots

Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin ramps up his offensive linemen before a game last season.

The question is simple for Harold Goodwin these days. Who is right?

The Cardinals’ offensive coordinator and offensive line coach isn’t necessarily worried about being wrong, either. Not yet.

That’s what the offseason is for, the sorting out of such questions. Jared Veldheer is his new hulking left tackle. Jonathan Cooper is on track to take his spot as left guard. Lyle Sendlein is the center.

“My mind is, who is playing right guard and who is playing right tackle?” Goodwin said. “Obviously Coop is going to be back. He’s slotted in there already unless he just screws it up. Lyle’s back. We’ve got Jared at left tackle. Right side is the big issue.

“The quicker we can find those two spots and get the chemistry rolling between those five guys, that’ll be great. I think we did get better as a unit the longer we worked together last year.”

No place is it more unsettled that right tackle. The Cardinals have their options at guard, with 2013 fourth-round pick Earl Watford, veteran free agent pickup Ted Larsen and Paul Fanaika, who started all last season after Cooper’s injury. Right tackle is more tenuous.

With Eric Winston a free agent, the Cards are left with Bobby Massie – 2012’s starter at the spot – and Bradley Sowell, who can play the right side and is looking to get back to the lineup after the Veldheer signing displaced him on the left side. Winston could still conceivably return, although it probably wouldn’t be before the draft. That’s where the Cards could also pick up a potential right tackle.

Massie makes the most sense. He was a fourth-round pick in 2012 and got better as the season went along. But he struggled in the offseason and in camp last year in Bruce Arians’ system, enough so that the decision to get Winston was made. He enters this offseason in a similar position.

“Bobby is a guy who has to make a decision on how good he wants to be,” Goodwin said. “There are plenty of guys walking around these halls with talent. He’s got to make the decision to be great. Bobby is another guy who’s had some mental error issues in the past. I’m not going to put Carson (Palmer) in danger. He’s already got enough to deal with. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. If you know what you’re doing, that’s really three-quarters of the battle.

“It’s his third year. This is a make-or-break year definitely for him.”

Goodwin acknowledges that the coaches “want the players to be like us” in terms of being able to regurgitate the plays correctly without problem. The hope is getting the young players in a position be as quick with recall as a veteran like Sendlein.

Anchoring the line with Veldheer has given the coaches an underlying optimism, though. Arians reiterated this week “it’s still hard to believe he was there” as a free agent.

Arians and Goodwin have been constant in their praise of Sowell’s effort and fight. But there was little question there was going to be an attempt at an upgrade, which is why the team moved as quickly as it did on Veldheer.

“Jared just brings me, (assistant line coach Larry) Zierlein, B.A., Carson, everybody down this hall peace of mind that Carson’s going to be OK,” Goodwin said. “Don’t get me wrong. He may give up a sack here or there, but the one thing I love about Jared is his mentality and mindset is ‘It won’t happen again.’ That’s going to be huge.”

“I feel a lot more confident today than I did when Bradley was there at left tackle,” Goodwin added. “Not that Bradley (was bad). Bradley’s Bradley. Now he’s got a chance to compete at right tackle.”

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