Earlier this offseason, Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said he felt the offensive line was the strength of the team. It raised a couple of eyebrows at the time, in part because there were probably other places one would think would be mentioned first.
Wilks was again asked about that Thursday, and if he still felt the same, then why?
"Number one, I like the free agents we got in the offseason," Wilks said, a nod to new starting right guard Justin Pugh and right tackle Andre Smith. "Those guys are working hard. ... The run game is important, you can see the emphasis from (coaches) Ray Brown and Steve (Heiden). Everything we do starts up front."
The line has been restructured, to a point. Pugh and Smith are obviously new, although both dealt with injuries last year. The same can be said for the left side of the line, which is guard Mike Iupati and tackle D.J. Humphries. At center, A.Q. Shipley remains in place. It is a group that is not going to gain a lot of endorsements nationally from the outside looking in. But on the inside -- here in June, when admittedly there are no pads and the hardest thing to judge are linemen on both sides of the ball -- there is optimism.
"I hope (Wilks) feels that way, I hope he says that," Brown said. "What I tell guys all the time, when I got this job and went into that first meeting, I said, 'Guys, we really can be the best in the world. We can be the best in the league. We can have the best offensive line in the league.' I was like, 'Wow, I said that.'
"When you say things like that (out loud), you have to work toward it. I always tell guys, you don't necessarily need to have sight to have vision. For me, I have this vision of us being the best, of us winning championships. Now, that's me saying that. The minute you put that out in the air ... you've got to move toward that. You have to work your tail off."