Cardinals right tackle D.J. Humphries will play in his first regular-season game Sunday.
If you want to gauge how D.J. Humphries is doing in his NFL debut Sunday night as a starting right tackle, watch for the head slap.
Not one he'd deliver. One he'd receive, from right guard Evan Mathis.
"Me and Evan, we have a deal, whenever I make a stupid mistake he's allowed to slap me upside the helmet," Humphries said Friday. "It's only happened once so far, but that's our deal.
"If you see me get slapped upside the head, know it's alright. Everything is under control."
Humphries' play will go a long way in determining how well the Cardinals' offense can perform. Coach Bruce Arians continues to say Humphries will often block on an island in the team's offense, so significant help won't be there to bail him out.
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said Humphries will be helped by wise veteran Mathis next to him, but added Humphries has come a long way since sitting inactive for all 16 games last season despite being a first-round pick.
"Every play counts," Goodwin said. "There are no do-overs. Every snap counts. Every play is a pivotal play, can't have mental errors."
Humphries has matured quite a bit – although Goodwin joked "he's always going to be 'Knee Deep,' " – and said he thinks he's found a balance between not being too hyped up to finally play and still use the past year as fuel.
As the regular season began last year, Humphries knew he wasn't going to play, and that was even with starting right tackle Bobby Massie suspended at the time. He spent the season on the bench turning it into motivation.
"This time last year I was sick, cussing out the world, angry," Humphries said. "What a difference a year makes. For real."
CARDINALS PRETTY HEALTHY, PATRIOTS LOSE GRONKOWSKI
The NFL changed the injury report designations this season, removing "probable" as an option. That showed up in Friday's initial status report for both the Patriots and Cardinals.
Linebackr Kareem Martin (knee) is out, which Arians had already said. Cornerback Justin Bethel (foot), linebacker Lamar Louis (knee) and running back Stepfan Taylor (knee) are questionable. But linebacker Alex Okafor (biceps) and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (neck) both practiced full Friday and didn't get a status, meaning both will play.
The Patriots initially listed all eight of their players as questionable. But Friday night they downgraded tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), guard and former Cardinal Jonathan Cooper (foot) and tackle Nate Solder (hamstring) to out. The three will not play.
Questionable are defensive lineman Trey Flowers (shoulder), guard Shaq Mason (hand), linebacker Shea McLellin (shoulder) and receiver Malcolm Mitchell (elbow).
AGE IS BUT A NUMBER FOR ARIANS
Arians was asked if, at the age of 63, he ever wonders about the window of opportunity closing for him as a coach.
"I don't see anyone talking about Pete and Bill, and they're older than me," Arians quipped.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll and New England coach Bill Belichick are both 64.