What a difference a year makes.
In May of 2016, second-year tackle D.J. Humphries arrived for Arizona Cardinals OTAs still absorbing instruction, still trying to get on the field. After being the 24th overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, the former Florida Gator failed to play a snap in his rookie season. In fact, he was the only healthy first-round pick who didn’t sniff the field.
A year later, Humphries is adjusting to a new position — left tackle — earned partly due to his stellar play on the right side of Arizona’s offensive line last season.
Humphries will flip-flop with Jared Veldheer, who has held down the left tackle spot for the last three years and was voted the team’s MVP in 2014. The 23-year-old is comfortable on the left side, where he played in college.
“It feels good, it feels good,” Humphries told Bickley and Marotta Tuesday on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “To get started on something that’s not temporary. When I played right tackle, I always had it in my mind that ‘this was temporary.’
“So it feels good to get back at the left side, where I can start honing in on my skills and solidify myself as a big-time tackle in this league.”
Some on the outside might feel that there would be hard feelings on Veldheer’s part, seeing as how left tackle is considered the linchpin position on the line. Humphries paints a much different picture.
“Jared is one of those guys, he doesn’t really care,” he said. “I’m pretty sure he cares to where he was comfortable playing on the left side, but he’s just like me when I had to play right side. If that’s what I’ve got to do to help this team win, that’s what we’re going to do.
“The goal hasn’t changed, we’re still trying to be the best two tackles in the league. We’re still trying to go out every day and get the best out of each other — we just switched spots in the huddle.”
In fact, Humphries said he and Veldheer aren’t averse to leaning on each other for pointers as each player is adjusting to a new spot.
“We already have, actually,” he said. “A lot of times, he’ll ask me ‘hey, what did it feel like when you started playing right tackle.’ And I’m like ‘how was it going against this guy, or how was it doing this on the left side.’ We’re already picking each other’s brains.
“Nothing’s changed. That’s still my big brother. I’m still asking him questions like I was before. He’s still putting juice on me like he was before. So nothing’s changed and I think it’s going to be something that will take us further when we get into the season where we’re able to pick each others’ brain.”
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