TEMPE — An offensive line that surrendered an NFL-worst 58 sacks a season ago returns only two starters.
That’s probably a good thing.
However, because of injury, the offensive line that opened training camp will not be the offensive line that takes the field Week 1 in St. Louis Sunday.
“It is what it is. People get hurt,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “Unfortunately (Jonathan Cooper) got hurt, but it’s the next man up. The standard is the standard, so whoever is in there has got to play great ball for us.”
Losing Cooper, who is done for the season after suffering a broken leg against San Diego, hurts. That’s not debatable. This year’s first-round draft pick had been penciled in as a starter at left guard. That spot now once again belongs to Daryn Colledge, a starter the past two seasons but who had been moved to the right side to make room for Cooper.
Enter Paul Fanaika; the former ASU Sun Devil is now the starting right guard.
Fanaika will be making his first career start, after being completely out of the NFL all of 2012.
“I’m definitely excited,” he said Thursday. “All that other stuff, the back-story about everything definitely adds something to it, but for me personally, it’s just an exciting accomplishment, period. But it’s just the first step, because now the games are for real.”
Said Goodwin about Fanaika, “He’s hungry. He’s got an opportunity now, so hopefully he grabs it and holds on to it.”
The staff has been high on Fanaika since day one. He received significant time with the first unit when Colledge missed time during training camp because of a leg injury.
More shuffling occurred this week.
With the release of Chilo Rachal, Goodwin needed to find more guard help aside from Earl Watford, whom the Cardinals drafted in the fourth-round.
Enter Nate Potter, the team’s second-year lineman who played eight games, including six starts at left tackle last season.
“Nate’s a good athlete,” Goodwin said. “It’s still a little bit of an adjustment to him, but I think he’s capable. He’s a team guy.”
Potter, who will backup Colledge, played some guard at Boise State, but nothing extensively since high school
“Just a lot of technique is different,” he said when asked about the transition inside. “Everything happens a little bit faster at guard, so I got to get comfortable with that.”
Comfort along the offensive line is imperative, especially for the quarterback they’re protecting and the running backs they’re opening up lanes for.
“Everybody that’s here prepares to play,” said Fanaika, “so whether they get their chance opening day or Week 17, they’re going to be ready.”