Lecitus Smith did not expect to play Sunday against the Seahawks at State Farm Stadium.
Then he did during the 31-21 defeat when starting right guard Will Hernandez left the game with a chest injury, leaving Smith as the replacement. Kliff Kingsbury said Hernandez hurt his pectoral muscle, but had no further update.
It was Smith's first taste of NFL work since the team drafted him in the sixth round during the 2022 draft.
"There were a lot of emotions racing through my body," Smith said. "I was like, 'OK, get ready. This is the big leagues. You have to go out there and do your job no matter what.'
"That's something (OL) coach Sean Kugler emphasizes. When someone goes down, you can't sit there with your hands up like, 'OMG, what am I going to do?' It's next man up. When Will went down, I had to step up."
Smith called his performance "decent,", especially for his first NFL game. He's already excited to watch the film and see what needs to be improved. Hernandez didn't return to the game.
Kingsbury said the Cardinals wanted to use Smith over veteran Sean Harlow, who is the backup center.
On Sunday, Smith was one of several new additions to the Cardinals' offensive line. Billy Price, who struggled Sunday, replaced Rodney Hudson in the center position. Cody Ford is filling in at left guard for Justin Pugh, who is done for the year with a torn ACL. The downside of new unit additions during the season is the chemistry effect, which showed Sunday when Seattle sacked quarterback Kyler Murray five times.
"Those guys are working together trying to get on a groove together," Murray said. "But when you've got the rotation and guys go down, it is tough. At the end of the day, you have to have the next man up mentality and we've just got to be better."
MISSED INTERCEPTIONS ARE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
Zaven Collins gave the Cardinals the lead with a 30-yard pick-six on Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, giving the team much needed life.
But the defense had two other opportunities for potential interceptions that could've changed the game's outcome.
Cornerback Byron Murphy squatted to his knees in frustration after dropping a potential interception in the second quarter. Then linebacker Tanner Vallejo failed to catch a tipped pass in the third quarter. The Seahawks scored touchdowns on the subsequent play both times.
"You just never know," linebacker Markus Golden said. "You're going to have some close ones and want to make the plays you can make. But I can't say if it would've changed the game."
KYLER AND HOP HAVE A SIDELINE CHAT
There were plenty of frustrating moments for the offense on Sunday, including one instance leading to Murray appearing animated during his conversation with DeAndre Hopkins on the sideline.
Murray said he wouldn't go into detail, just that it was a "miscommunication."
Hopkins said he's not surprised the conversation went viral on social media, but the star receiver said it was just two players talking about ways they could improve on offense.
"That's who he is and I love it," Hopkins said. Just talking about what we can do. It's good to have somebody like that who's emotionally passionate with their craft."