The Arizona Cardinals are expecting veteran tackle Max Starks, who signed with the team in early August, to fill in at both left and right tackle this season.
Starks has plenty of experience at both positions — and although he’s played most of his NFL career at left tackle, he says those expectations are just fine with him.
“I think (playing right tackle is) more challenging because obviously the best guy on defense more often than not is usually going to be that weak-side rusher,” Starks said Friday on the Doug and Wolf show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “That was a challenge, and I did it for seven years — played a lot of games at left tackle — but I got my start in this league at the right tackle position. I got over 30 starts at that position, so it’s something that I’m very familiar with…
“I actually enjoyed the right side because you could run the ball more on that side as opposed to being the back-side cutoff guy.”
Starks suffered an ankle injury during the Cardinals’ 30-28 preseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday.
While the NFL has been penalizing defenders more often this preseason for using hands to the face, he said officials missed a glaring infraction on the play in which the injury occurred.
“During that play, (a Vikings defensive end) had hands inside of my facemask, and nothing (was called),” he said.
“It’s one of those things that it has to be a very obvious one, I think, to get called, but you obviously don’t want to bait (players into) that because hands to the face, it knocks you out and you kind of get stunned as far as what your responsibilities are in trying to get a guy stopped.”
Starks, who spent the first nine years of his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, said he signed with the Cardinals in part because of his familiarity with head coach Bruce Arians, who was the Steelers’ wide receivers coach from 2004-06.
Starks said he’s enjoyed watching Arians’ progression from position coach, to offensive coordinator and interim head coach with the Indianapolis Colts, to head coach.
“I think (his playbook has) expanded obviously since he’s left Pittsburgh and he had his time in Indianapolis, and now here, I think he’s amassed a wider array of offensive plays… very similar terminology, very similar plays, but they’re expanded and there’s more options inside of this offense now than there was before,” he said.
“I think that’s an awesome thing and it’s good to see that progression, and I think it allows for a lot of versatility and a lot of success.”
Starks is also relishing the chance to play alongside his old AFC North division rival, former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. Starks said he met Palmer, who won the Heisman Trophy at USC in 2002, before his NFL career began.
“The funny thing is I actually met Carson when I was a high school kid on my official visit to USC, and I thought he was a cool guy then,” he said. “Even when we played against Cincinnati — even when I was hoping he’d get sacked or hoping he’d throw an interception to his old college roommate, Troy Polamalu, I knew he was a good guy, and it only reaffirmed it once I came here.
“Carson’s been consistent — just a cool, calm, collected dude, and very easy to talk to, very approachable. Nothing really changed in my mind except for rooting for him instead of rooting against him.”