GLENDALE, Ariz. — Injuries are a part of football, and they certainly are a part of training camp. But if you’re going to get hurt, it’s better to get hurt earlier rather than later, even if you’re a player as valuable as the starting center.
Lyle Sendlein, the rock of the Arizona Cardinals offensive line since 2008, suffered a left calf injury early in training camp on Monday — the first day the team practiced in pads.
He’s expected to miss the next three weeks of work, including the first two preseason games.
“He should be fine probably the third or fourth preseason game,” head coach Bruce Arians said of Sendlein, who started all 16 games last season for the fifth time in the past six years. “He’s a veteran. He knows what he’s doing. It’s a blessing in a lot of ways. He stays healthier and some young guys get a lot of good reps.”
Replacing Sendlein for as long as he is out will be Ted Larson, who was signed in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent after spending his first four seasons with Tampa Bay.
He and quarterback Carson Palmer had never worked together before Monday, and it showed during 11-on-11 drills as the first exchange between the two was fumbled.
“I’ve taken so many (snaps) with Lyle. You get so used to one guy, and then all of a sudden, another guy comes in,” Palmer said. “You’ve just got to find out where to put your hands and where he consistently snaps the ball. Ted snaps it consistently in one spot. I found the spot and it’s not an issue any more.”
Building chemistry between a quarterback and a center takes time, which, according to Palmer, they both have — with camp being only four days old.
“If it’s going to be a little while until we get Lyle back, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to work together,” he said.
Already, the Cardinals offensive line was looking at three new starters for the upcoming season. Losing Sendlein, albeit in the short term, means right guard Paul Fanaika is the lone holdover from last season’s starting unit.
“Lyle is as integral a part of this offense as anybody is,” Palmer said. “He’s very, very underrated — been a very good player for a long time. Really, really smart. Very, very poised. Helps everybody out around him.
“So when you lose that guy, it’s obviously a blow.”
Palmer, though, was quick to point out the opportunity this now gives Larson, who has opened 31 of the 60 games he’s played in the NFL, including 16 starts at left guard, four at right guard and 11 at center.
“And now he’s finally getting some real reps at center … so it’ll be a really good chance for him,” he said. “And I think when Lyle does get back, it’ll make (Larson) a better guard — just having that experience at center, making the calls, being the guy that everybody is listening to. And then, when you go back to guard, you’re probably making the same calls at the same time Lyle is — just because of the experience he’ll have there.”