Right tackle Bobby Massie (70) takes on linebacker Kevin Minter at a recent training camp practice.
Bobby Massie had a better seat than anyone for the Cardinals' five-game improvement in 2013, and he can't wait to give it up.
"I'm tired of sitting on the bench," Massie said.
It wasn't always like that. Massie was the starter at right tackle throughout 2012 as a rookie. He struggled at first, but by the end of the year, was lauded for his improvement and mentioned as one of the stronger right tackles in the game by Pro Football Focus. In 2013, in came a new coaching staff, with new schemes and ideas.
Massie was the assumed starter, but he struggled to pick up the playbook. The Cardinals went out and signed veteran
Eric Winston at the start of training camp. Winston started all 16 games. Massie only saw spot duty.
"It was a transition," offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. "One thing he learned from Russ (Grimm), coach (Ken Whisenhunt) and all those guys as far as that offense, and then all of a sudden it was all brand-new for him. There was a little bit of a learning curve, and unfortunately he was a little slow picking it up, but he's a lot better now."
As recently as this offseason, Goodwin and the coaching staff had their doubts about Massie's ability to start, as his mental errors would doom plays before they could begin.
Recently, there has been a shift in the tone when talking about him. General Manager Steve Keim went on Arizona Sports on Monday and said Massie was in the best shape of his life while pointing out his immense physical tools.
Coach Bruce Arians said Massie has pulled ahead of Bradley Sowell for the starting job, and at this point, it's his to lose. While Goodwin didn't heap praise on Massie's development, he seems to be satisfied with the progress after questioning in March how badly Massie wanted to succeed.
"It's still an open competition but so far he's done a decent job," Goodwin said. "Mentally, he's gotten a whole lot better. He still has some improvements he needs to make, but for the most part, he's done a decent job, as well as Nate (Potter) and as well as Bradley.
"He's more focused because he realized he's got to be able to do what we want him to do, to know where he's going
when the ball is snapped."
A year on the bench has not shaken Massie's confidence. While he began offseason workouts behind Sowell on the depth chart, he has surpassed him. While Arians and Goodwin are waiting to see which player looks best in pads, Massie has no plans on losing the starter's role.
"This is my spot," Massie said. "I'm not giving it up or letting anybody take it.
"This is my year to shine."
The Cardinals have a GM and offensive coordinator who were offensive linemen, two offensive assistants for the position as well as a coach who played quarterback. Needless to say, there is a deep focus on building up the trenches, and a high level of expectation.
Massie is heading into his third season, one of them spent as a starter and one as a reserve. However, the natural progression has been flipped, making this an important year for him. If Massie does not win the job, it will be his second straight season as a backup, and red flags will go up.
He has showed the physical talent to play the position, but mental errors can be costly, risking sacks, turnovers and a quarterback's health. Massie's future could be cloudy if he fails to win the starting job in training camp, but he is not considering that alternative.
"Shoot, I was a starter in my rookie year," Massie said. "It started out rough but at the end of the season I finished up as one of the top tackles in the league. I have the ability to be one of the top tackles in this league. I just have to show it."
More pictures from training camp practices