Bradley Sowell was finally getting an opportunity, and he had no plans of wasting it.
Named the Arizona Cardinals’ starting left tackle following the team’s trade of Levi Brown to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the second-year pro went into the team’s matchup with the Carolina Panthers unsure of what to expect.
“I was a little nervous at first, but once I got out there I got really comfortable and I got in a groove,” Sowell told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Tuesday. “And I felt pretty good.”
He played pretty well, not allowing a sack and not being a liability at any point in the game. For a player who was claimed by Arizona off waivers just more than one month ago, stepping into a game and protecting Carson Palmer’s blind side could have been a dicey situation.
But Sowell, who said he has never lacked confidence in his ability, was ready for the challenge.
“I learned that I definitely fit in this league, and I’ve been an undrafted guy so I have to beat the odds everywhere I’ve been,” he said. “Everywhere I’ve been I’ve been a numbers guy and I’ve been a victim of numbers twice.
“Finally I was just just like, I’ve got my chance, I’ve been waiting on my chance at left tackle for a while.”
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Sowell “played very good, for his first outing,” adding that there are things the 24-year-old can improve on. The coach appreciated how Sowell “battled really hard,” which is something Sowell says is more or less his style.
Because as even Sowell admits, he’s not necessarily the strongest or most physical lineman on the field.
“There’s only one way to play this game, and that’s with a lot of passion,” he said. “If you don’t, you’re not going to be good at it, in my opinion.”
Sowell was good enough Sunday, though odds are he’ll have his share of struggles throughout the course of this season. If he learns from them and progresses, though, the team may have found an important player in a guy who few predicted would have much success in the NFL.
“Everywhere I’ve been I’ve proved people wrong, it’s unbelievable,” Sowell said. “I get to Ole Miss, I was the lowest recruit in my class and I was the only one to finish, started before everybody.
“I’m just one of those guys — you ever have a guy that’s always overlooked? That’s me, go ahead and put me in that category.”
Sowell stands in at 6-foot-7 and 315 pounds, so it would seem impossible to miss him. Yet, he feels that’s exactly what has happened throughout his career.
Not drafted and having bounced around a bit early in his career, he maintained a belief that if he practiced hard good things would come.
“I just knew that eventually, if somebody gave me my shot, I would do decent,” he said. “Really got a long way to go, but I love it and I’ll definitely try my hardest every time.”