It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
When the Arizona Cardinals used the seventh pick of the 2013 NFL Draft on guard Jonathan Cooper, the former North Carolina Tar Heel was supposed to be a fixture at left guard for the team from day one.
Instead, Cooper will miss 10-12 weeks after having surgery to repair a fractured left fibula, and head coach Bruce Arians is scrambling his O-line less than two weeks before the season opener against St. Louis.
Part of that shuffle includes shifting Daryn Colledge from right guard back over the to the left side, where he has started the last 32 games for Arizona.
“You know, it should be an easy transition for me, I expect to fit right back in there and get it done,” Colledge said Monday. “But I’m going to keep working on the right side, just in case this situation goes the other direction too, I need to be prepared to play either side of the ball.”
Colledge says there will be a little adjustment for him, but most of it will be in his head.
“Physically, I’ve been playing on the left side of the ball for the last 11 years, so for me, it should be an easy transition back to that,” he said. “There will be no excuses physically, it’ll just be mentally getting on the same page.”
On the right side, former Arizona State Sun Devil Paul Fanaika, who started the first preseason game against Green Bay, will get the initial crack at solidifying the position. Chilo Rachal, who has 38 career starts at right guard in his five-year career, will also be in the mix for playing time at the position.
Fanaika, who has been impressive in camp, has floated around the league since being a seventh-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 with other stops in Cleveland, Washington and Seattle. He was not in the league last year, but now has a chance to start.
“Paul’s got a great story and he’s battled to have an opportunity to come in here and play and now it’s up to him and Chilo, one of those guys to seize that opportunity and make something out of it,” Colledge said. “They both know that the reality is when Cooper’s back, one of us is probably going to have to go down.
“It’s up to us three to figure out which one of us that’s going to be.”