GLENDALE, Ariz. – His versatility earned him a contract in the offseason.
His on-field play may have just earned him a starting job.
Say hello to 27-year-old Ted Larsen, the Arizona Cardinals new left guard.
But, wait; doesn’t that spot belong to Jonathan Cooper, whom the team invested the seventh overall draft pick in only two years ago?
“He’s in the training room (dealing with a turf toe). He can’t do anything,” head coach Bruce Arians said rather matter-of-factly Monday.
OK ,then what about Earl Watford, part of that same 2013 draft class? Has he not impressed enough to be given a shot?
“He did really, really some good things (at Minnesota) and he did some rookie things still,” Arians answered. “(His play) needs to be more consistent.”
Enter Larsen, signed this offseason to a two-year contract as an unrestricted free agent after spending his first four seasons with Tampa Bay.
For the past three weeks, he has been manning the center position after Lyle Sendlein suffered a calf injury just days into training camp.
Of Larsen’s 31 career starts, 11 have been at center.
“Really quality player. We loved him at left guard when we got him, which is where he played mostly last year. But to see him play center so well was really pleasing to know that he added (to) the depth, quality depth,” Arians said, before adding, “When Lyle comes back (likely on Wednesday), there’s a real good chance he’ll be our starting left guard.”
When told of his coach’s comments, Larsen, with a straight face, responded, “Ready to go wherever they decide to put me.”
The former sixth-round pick out of North Carolina State has appeared in 60 consecutive games dating back to his rookie season in 2010, including all 16 games in each of the past three seasons.
Never, though, has Larsen been a fixture at one position.
“That’s part of the deal. If you’re going to be a backup, if you’re going to be that sixth guy, you’ve got to play all three (interior line spots),” he said. “That’s something I’ve just been forced to do in my time in the NFL, so it’s something I’m ready to do.”
Just how long Larsen remains the starting left guard may be determined by how long Cooper remains sidelined.
“That turf toe was pretty significant. It’s still swollen a little bit,” GM Steve Keim told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday. “We’re hoping to try to get him back at some point this week; if not this week, for sure early next week.”
That is, if the turf toe injury heals sufficiently.
“There’s no doubt that so far throughout this camp (Larsen) has been one of our five best offensive linemen,” Keim said.
Added Arians, “We’re going to put the best five out there. There’s no doubt about that.”