NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The day Cody Ford was drafted in 2019, he got a text from his college teammate, Kyler Murray.
Murray had been the No. 1 overall selection by the Cardinals, and the team had the first pick of the second round the following night.
"Kyler sent me a text," the offensive lineman said. "He said, 'Dude, we're trying. We're trying to make it happen.' "
The Cardinals instead took cornerback Byron Murphy. Five picks later, the Bills drafted Ford. But, like wide receiver Hollywood Brown earlier this offseason, the Cardinals again reunited former Oklahoma teammates with a trade.
"It's very surreal," Ford said after practice on Thursday. "It's kind of like a sense of manifestation.
"It all worked out."
Ford is going to play against the Titans Saturday night, coach Kliff Kingsbury said, adding he was impressed Ford was able to walk in and give them reps against the Titans in practice.
"We've just got to keep him coming along," Kingsbury said.
Trading for Ford – the team dealt a 2023 fifth-round pick on Monday – was necessary. The Cardinals have been hit hard with offensive line injuries. How serious they are varies, but enough has happened that Ford's timeline has been frantic.
The trade happened Monday, he flew to Arizona for a physical Tuesday and then took another flight later that day to Tennessee. Wednesday morning, he was alongside left tackle D.J. Humphries practicing with the first unit with starter Justin Pugh dealing with a stinger.
"They kind of gave me a heads up, but it didn't really hit me until they were like, 'You're going in with the ones,' " Ford acknowledged.
Ford was a beast of a player in college, one of the behemoths that kept his quarterback Kyler Murray on track for a Heisman Trophy-winning season.
The Bills ultimately took Ford in the second round, five spots after Murphy. He was supposed to be Buffalo's answer at right tackle, and he started 15 of his 16 games there as a rookie.
But knee and groin injuries cut his second season short, playing in only seven games, and by then the Bills used him at right and left guard and not tackle. Last season, he played right guard, appearing in 15 games but starting only seven. The Bills found others to man each guard spot this season, and Ford found himself as a backup at best.
"I think getting D.J. to communicate in this particular manner is helping his growth as well," right tackle Kelvin Beachum said. "Being able to have both of them working together in such a short amount of time with such immense pressure, not only to do it in a joint practice like they had to do, but (Thursday) start working through some things and put themselves in a position just to communicate."
Ford smiles at the idea he can play next to Humphries. Before he went to Oklahoma, he was a giant Florida Gators fan, and watched Humphries in college and in the pros.
"Now working next to him, it's crazy," Ford said. "He's very vocal. You can tell he's passionate about this stuff."
Ford is enjoying his honeymoon with the Cardinals. He praised offensive line coach Sean Kugler for spending extra time with him to help him learn the offense. He loves his new offensive linemates, calling the vibe in the room "immaculate."
He is definitely comfortable with the quarterback, listening to Murray get agitated during the Titans' practice trying to correct something and "I was like, 'Man, it's like we're back in Norman.' "
He isn't in Norman, though. Yes, he's back with Murray and Brown, but he's in Arizona – OK, Tennessee for a couple more days, and then Arizona – for now.
Ford paused when he was asked why it'll work with the Cardinals when it didn't with the Bills. He was self-aware enough to not make that commitment just yet.
But he likes the idea.
"You never know," Ford said. "To be honest, no one said it's going to work out. The difference here is, it's a gamble on myself. I wanted the new opportunity. No matter what happens, it's all on me."
Images of the Cardinals practicing with the Tennessee Titans at the Titans Practice Facility in Nashville