Tempe, Ariz. — D.J. Humphries’ light bulb may be starting to shine a little brighter.
From the way Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was talking Tuesday, after his team finished up its final practice before the preseason finale Thursday in Denver, the answer is yes.
“He’s getting better, yeah,” the coach said. “The last 10 days I think he’s realizing what pro football is all about.”
It’s a stark contrast from what Arians was saying about the first-round pick, 24th overall, as recently as last Friday, when he answered a question about the rookie’s progression by saying he finished training camp the way he started it.
Yet, if the lineman is starting to figure things out, that’s a good thing.
With Humphries, 21, the issue has never been talent. No, Arians has called out the former Florida Gator’s effort and/or attention to detail, with the caveat being that there is an understandable learning curve a young player tends to go through.
In terms of his effort being questioned, Humphries said that’s really up to Arians.
“I’m just trying to, every time I get in at practice I’m just trying to go as hard as I can so I can give them what they want and give them what they’re looking for,” he said.
Humphries said the most difficult part of his transition from college to the NFL has been getting used to the speed of the game, able to perform at a high level while “all the bullets are flying.”
To be fair, Arians admitted the hope was that Humphries wouldn’t have been needed at all this year. Though most first-round picks are expected to play, the idea was that this one would sit behind starter Bobby Massie while he learned to the right tackle position. Humphries played left tackle in college.
“We were hoping he wouldn’t have to, that we would have a good full year with him to develop him,” Arians said. “Because he was young and predominantly a left tackle. So for him to go to the right side, it was going to be a lot of technique and strength work.
“But there’s going to come a time when he’s going to get thrown out there and he better be ready.”
When that time will come is anyone’s guess, though for Humphries, he said his greatest disappointment is that he was not able do what he needed to do in order to earn the right tackle job now, as it was opened up due to Massie being suspended. Instead, it is veteran Bradley Sowell and third-year pro Earl Watford, who was drafted as a guard, competing for the job.
“But I can’t get down on myself,” he said. “Still trying to keep working hard and keep fighting.”
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