Right tackle Bradley Sowell takes a break during Wednesday's OTA.
By the time free agency beckoned in mid-March, everybody in the NFL world knew the Cardinals were looking for an upgrade at left tackle, a move consummated quickly when Jared Veldheer signed a 5-year, $35 million contract.
The move displaced last year's starter, Bradley Sowell, but it did not catch him by surprise. In fact, Sowell – who started the final 12 games after Levi Brown was traded to Pittsburgh -- was one of the first to know his spot was temporary.
"They kind of told me even before I ever started at left tackle that I would play it for the season and I'd have to really impress not for them to bring in another one," Sowell said. "Goody (offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin) even told me
after the season that they'd probably bring in a left tackle and I'd have a chance to compete at right.
"One thing I love about the Cardinals is you may not want to hear it, but they're straight up with you. They let you know where you stand so you're never wondering."
True to his word, Goodwin has shuffled Sowell over to right tackle. He is in competition with Bobby Massie for the job and for now has a small edge, practicing with the first-string thus far. Sowell played the position briefly as a rookie with the Colts, but most of his experience has come on the left side.
"It's nice to get reps every day, get some good muscle memory," Sowell said. "(Tuesday) I felt like I did OK. (Wednesday) I felt like I did better. With time, I'm eventually going to get it down pat."
Massie was a fourth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2012 and started every game as a rookie, but only played situationally last year after the Cardinals added Eric Winston late in free agency.
He may have more raw ability than Sowell, but still has to put it all together. Mental errors have plagued him in the past, and Goodwin called this a make-or-break season for the third-year lineman.
"There are plenty of guys walking around these halls with talent," Goodwin said in March. "He's got to make the decision to be great."
Sowell and Massie played together collegiately for three seasons at Mississippi, but back then it worked out fine as Sowell manned left tackle and Massie right tackle. Now they are zeroing in on a spot only one can claim.
"I've known Bradley for a long time, but at the end of the day it comes down to having a job or not having a job," Massie said. "You've just got to put that out of your mind, go out there every day and take the same spot. May the best man win."
Sowell had a pretty good idea he would be losing his starting left tackle position when the offseason began, but now he's gotten a second chance. While his competition sits just a stool away in the locker room, Sowell said there is no ill will as he and Massie aim for the same goal.
"The coaches are going to decide," Sowell said. "It's not for me and him to decide, so there's no reason for us to hate each other. We actually try to help each other out. If it's him, it's him. If it's me, it's me. Whoever can help the Cardinals win the Super Bowl. I mean that with all my heart. If B.A. thinks it's me that he thinks can help win the Super Bowl, then I want to be a part of that. If the call is for him to be the starting right tackle to win the Super Bowl and me be the backup, I'm all for whatever. I just want to win."