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Tweaking The Post-Cooper Line

Colledge to move to left guard, Fanaika steps into starting right guard spot


The offensive line will feature Daryn Colledge at left guard and Paul Fanaika at right guard now that Jonathan Cooper is hurt.

For about 36 hours the question lingered.

How will the Cardinals replace injured left guard Jonathan Cooper?

The speculation floated, the guesses kept coming, but coach Bruce Arians put all that to rest Monday afternoon.

Daryn Colledge, who moved to right guard after Cooper was drafted, will revert back to the left side and Paul Fanaika will replace Colledge on the right side.

"That's a natural fit," Arians said of moving Colledge. "I like it more that Paul has played right guard so we're only moving one player. You never want to move two. And I like the fact that Paul has played extremely well the whole time."

Colledge was told Sunday he'll be moving back to his old position. He played on the left side for the past 11 years, he said.

Just after April's draft, the Cardinals released right guard Adam Snyder to pave the way for Colledge's move to Carson

Palmer's right side. Starting with Monday's practice, two weeks before the Cardinals travel to St. Louis for their season opener, Colledge will be back on the left for the first time since the calendar said May.

"It's just a situation of knowing the number system," Colledge said. "Everything's opposite in your head. On the right side, you're paying attention to a different number than you are on the left side.

"For me it should be an easy transition back to that so there will be no excuses physically. It'll just be mentally getting back on the same page."

Fanaika, who was out of football all last season, has been high on Arians' radar throughout training camp. When Colledge went down with a stress fracture a few days into camp, Fanaika started running with the first team. But nobody back then thought it'd be a blessing in disguise.

"It definitely was a plus to get some reps with the ones, to get familiar with those guys," Fanaika said. "It definitely helped a lot.

"You prepare to play. Nobody takes on this daunting task of training in the offseason and preparing to be a backup so you have to get yourself to that mindset of what you have to do to do prepare yourself to play."

Added to the mix will be Chilo Rachal, who Arians said could compete for playing time.

If Cooper returns this season, Colledge, Rachal and Fanaika would be back to competing for one position. Arians said surgery on Cooper's fractured left fibula went "great" and his recovery timeline is 10-12 weeks. The Cardinals will decide in the next few days whether to assign the rookie to the injured reserve list but designate him to return, as the Cardinals did last year with Levi Brown. If his recovery goes as planned, Cooper could play in the Cardinals' final six games, Arians said. The team hopes that's the case because Arians doesn't want the seventh pick in the draft to go through a second rookie season.

While the coaching staff and front office follow Cooper's progression for the next three months, the three guards called into action will be focused on leaving an impression before Cooper returns.

"They know when Cooper's back, one of us is probably going to have to go down," Colledge said. "So it's up to us three to figure out which one it's going to be."

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