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Chilo Rachal Works On "Major Comeback"

With Cooper unsigned, free-agent signee getting work at first-string left guard


Guard Chilo Rachal (73) gets some drill work in alongside tackle Levi Brown (75) during Saturday's practice.

While Jonathan Cooper isn't in camp, Chilo Rachal is more than happy to take his spot at left guard.

The sixth-year veteran, who signed a one-year free-agent contract in the offseason, was running

with the first unit when Cooper – the team's unsigned first-round draft choice – first started working out with the Cardinals this offseason. Cooper eventually supplanted Rachal in the spring, but now that Cooper is absent while he and the team deal with a contract stalemate, Rachal was elevated on the depth chart again.

Eventually Cooper will sign. Eventually Cooper will be the starter again. Until then, Rachal will embrace the chance.

"I just look at it as an opportunity," Rachal said. "I am familiar with being a 'one,' so I just look at it as getting better. Straight up."

With the amount of options the Cardinals have compiled on the roster, Rachal will have to battle to make the roster. He is off to a good start, said offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who also serves as the main offensive line coach.

"Obviously we would love to have Cooper in here," Goodwin said. "Hopefully he gets his butt here sooner than later. But Chilo is progressing really well and he's been positive every day and he's trying to learn and get better every day."

It's not like Rachal doesn't understand the drama that can come with line shuffles. Last season, Rachal started the season on the bench for the Bears before being elevated for an eight-game starting stretch. He was benched again when he had a poor game against his former team, the 49ers.

Upset with how he was told of the demotion, Rachal was given the chance to go home and think about the situation by then-coach Lovie Smith. He did not return for a team meeting that afternoon, choosing to take a little more time to digest the move. The Bears decided to place him on a reserve list, ending his season.

"I looked at it as a minor setback for a major comeback," Rachal said. "Everything isn't always sunshine. You'll have storms too. I looked at it that I have another good opportunity, I have a chance to compete and control what I can control."

"I was a little frustrated but I am leaving the past in the past," he added. "I'm a Cardinal now. I have nothing but positive things to say about the Bears organization. I'm focused on being a Cardinal and playing in 2013."

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