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With Justin Pugh Hurting, Mason Cole Moves Around

Notes: Chris Jones pushing for secondary spot; Kingsbury supports Gonzalez

Mason Cole (52), here getting ready to snap the ball while playing center, has also gotten time at guard and tackle in camp.
Mason Cole (52), here getting ready to snap the ball while playing center, has also gotten time at guard and tackle in camp.

Health was perhaps the most crucial component of the Cardinals' offensive line this season, and the lack of it– even short-term – could end up playing a role in the unit's makeup.

Starting left guard Justin Pugh suffered a shoulder injury during Saturday's Red-White practice, coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. It isn't expected to be serious, with Kingsbury saying Pugh is expected back "in the next couple of weeks." But with Mason Cole sliding into Pugh's left guard spot in the first-unit offensive line, that could also hamper Cole's bid to beat out veteran A.Q. Shipley as the starting center.

Cole had already been moved around some, as the Cards test out his versatility. Before moving into left guard the other day, he also had been getting reps with the second team at left tackle.

"I think we need to figure out who can play where and still be effective," Kingsbury said. "We have moved Mason out there and he's had some reps there and held his own. The next few weeks we have to see what we have up front when it comes to versatility.

"He's a guy who we are still figuring out if he can survive out there (at tackle)."

Cole did play left tackle in his senior season at the University of Michigan, although Kingsbury said there was "no question" he was better at guard, and the team still sees him as the long-term answer at center.


Last season, cornerback Chris Jones was simply a rookie trying to hang on to an NFL job, coming to the Cardinals after his initial undrafted turn in Detroit ended with a release. Jones' time in Arizona was mostly on the practice squad, although he was elevated to the roster in December.

Now he seems to have a good chance to be on the 53-man roster, making two more impressive pass breakups at the Red-White practice last weekend.

"He had a fantastic spring," Kingsbury said. "It felt like even if the ball has been caught (on him) he's been there and it's been competitive and he's been locking on people. He's tough, physical, business-like, athletic. We really like what we've seen from him."

There will be no boasting from Jones, who – thanks to dealing with three defensive coordinators and four defensive backs coaches while at Nebraska – is used to learning a new system.

"I've been through it," Jones said. "The only thing I can do now is prove that I can play."


Kicker Zane Gonzalez did miss three of his final five field-goal attempts at Saturday's practice, but Kingsbury shrugged those off and reiterated Gonzalez has been "really good" in camp. The coach noted one miss hit the right upright and another was near the right upright that the coaches felt the try was good – there was only one official stationed under the goalpost and he was under the left side.

"We feel great with where he is at," Kingsbury said of Gonzalez.


While Kingsbury said wide receiver Andy Isabella (knee) and safety D.J. Swearinger (soft tissue) are unlikely to play Thursday against the Chargers, there is optimism they will return to practice this week. The Cardinals only have regular practices today and Tuesday before the game. Saturday is their first practice post-Chargers.