Patchwork offensive line does magnificent job for Arizona Cardinals
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals looked impressive with a rebuilt offensive line that held up well against a stout Los Angeles Rams defense.
The Arizona Cardinals must have been nervous heading into last Sunday’s pivotal matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury was going to have to guide a scoring attack that would be missing four starters on the offensive line.
Rodney Hudson, Justin Pugh and Will Hernandez would be unavailable, due to the fact that all three have been placed on Arizona’s injured-reserve list. D.J. Humphries, the unit’s blindside protector, would also be sidelined. A great deal of responsibility would fall at the feet of Kelvin Beachum, the Cards right tackle who’d be asked to lead a patchwork group of linemen.
The division-rival Rams, as usual, would present one heck of a challenge. All-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald would be ready to wreak havoc. Other defenders such as Bobby Wagner, Leonard Floyd and A’Shawn Robinson would also be looking to have their way with an undermanned Cardinals O-line.
Arizona Cardinals blocking unit played well with 80% of the starters sidelined
Filling in at left tackle for Humphries was Josh Jones, a third-year youngster out of the University of Houston. The club’s third-round draft pick in 2020 was on the field for every offensive snap, and is finally resembling the player who many draftniks had pegged as a first-round talent.
Left guard Rashaad Coward, a journeyman offensive lineman, rejoined the Redbirds on November 2nd after being released back in September. The 28-year-old has had stints with five different NFL franchises, but his play this past weekend may keep him in Arizona for awhile.
Former first-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals, Billy Price, has been the anchor of the Cards O-line for the past four contests. Hudson appears to be headed for retirement, and the 28-year-old Price is auditioning quite well for the job.
One of the most pleasant surprises has been Lecitus Smith, the right guard who was a sixth-round draft choice this past April. The 24-year-old was in for all 68 offensive snaps versus Los Angeles, and is now looking like an outright steal at the 215th-overall pick.
A whole lot of credit must go to offensive line coach Sean Kugler, the veteran assistant who’s done an outstanding job with what he’s been handed. Next up is a Monday night battle with the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City. The Cardinals can only hope for a repeat performance from this unheralded crew of blockers.
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