Tackles Jeremy Bridges (73) and Bobby Massie (70) listen to coaches during a recent practice.
FLAGSTAFF – When Bobby Massie first showed up to the Cardinals and met Jeremy Bridges, his expectations were turned sideways.
"He's nothing like what I thought he was going to be like," Massie said.
As for what Massie expected of Bridges, well, the term he used wasn't family friendly, but essentially, it was that Bridges would be a jerk. Massie was drafted in the fourth round to eventually take Bridges' spot at right tackle after all.
Instead, "he's helped me out a lot, given me tips, showed how to improve my technique, helped on the sideline, on the field, in the meeting room," Massie said. "He's just a real cool guy."
Bridges, who moved into the right tackle role last year when the now-departed Brandon Keith got hurt, wouldn't think of being anything else. The veteran knew all along the Cards would draft a tackle. With Levi Brown coming back, Bridges knew the draftee would be for the right side, and that his starting spot would be in jeopardy.
But Bridges long ago reconciled his role with the Cardinals, which was that there was no set role. He wants to start, certainly. He is happy in his professional life, though.
"I have come to accept it and I embrace it," Bridges said. "I tell coach (Ken Whisenhunt) all the time, 'Whatever you need me to do I am here.' I love this team, love the guys on this team and I have found a home. I want to be whatever they need me to be."
Right now, that's as mentor to Massie. And probably the starting right tackle.
"I tell the kid anything he needs to know," Bridges said. "He's a great kid. But our offense is not easy, on the offensive line or anything.
"This is a veteran-friendly team, when you are producing. You need veterans who have been there and done it. It's not a kid-friendly league. You can get introduced to the league the right way or the wrong way. When you have the grace period to sit and watch and learn, why not use it? You don't want to be thrown in there and get destroyed by the media and the fans. You know how that goes."
Offensive line coach Russ Grimm said there needs to be a comfort level with whoever is playing. That's not there yet with Massie, Grimm said, because there are so many details with which to cover. If the end pinches down instead of rushes, if a linebacker comes over to this side or that, "there are a lot of 'what ifs' there," Grimm said.
That's why Massie said he stays up until 12:30 a.m. many nights, head buried in the playbook. By his own admission, he wasn't much of a study guy in college. He understood right away that had to change. The playbook "is my kryptonite right now," Massie said.
Massie won't complain. He loves the opportunity he has with the Cardinals, and some of that good feeling comes with the knowledge he will get a chance to start at some point. Bridges' help is a benefit too.
There's no reason for Bridges not to pass along advice. He realizes the inevitable. But he also knows the inevitable doesn't necessarily have a set time frame.
"They drafted Bobby for the future, whether that's this year or next year or the year after that, he's here," Bridges said. "I'm sure they want him to be in there as soon as possible. I know. I know the business.
"At the same time, he's got a lot to learn."