In the trenches of the line of scrimmage, the battles can often get bloody and gloves for both offensive and defensive lineman are all but a given. Except, apparently, for Cardinals fourth-round defensive lineman Leki Fotu.
Fotu wore gloves once upon a time, in his first couple years of college, following what all his teammates were doing. But then he came to the conclusion he'd rather play without.
"I got comfortable just using my bare hands in a game," Fotu said. "That carried over to now."
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said he has never seen a defensive lineman go without gloves, but figures Fotu's glove-less rugby career may be a reason. Fellow defensive lineman Jordan Phillips said as soon as he saw Fotu didn't operate with gloves, his reaction was swift.
"I said, 'You're crazy,' " Phillips recalled. " 'I'm not going to mess with you. Whatever you want to do, bro, you can have it.' "
"Anybody who doesn't wear gloves, it's like something is wrong with you," Phillips added.
Fotu knows it's odd. He's estimated in his non-glove-wearing play, he's had about five fingernails ripped off.
"I know the risks that I take not wearing gloves," Fotu said. "On those days when my nails come off it's a sign for me I should've clipped my nails before going out. Other than that, no serious injuries or any problems with my hands. When I feel like it's the right time to tape up, I'll tape up."