Decisions still remain when it comes to Cardinals starting offensive line

Jun 6, 2017, 12:10 PM | Updated: 6:04 pm
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin works with Will Holden and John Wetzel during Arizona Cardinal...
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin works with Will Holden and John Wetzel during Arizona Cardinals OTAs Tuesday, May 16. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
LISTEN: Harold Goodwin, Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator

For the Arizona Cardinals to reach their lofty 2017 goals, one thing they will need to do is keep their 37-year-old quarterback upright.

Last season, Carson Palmer was sacked 41 times, the second-most in his career.

With multiple ACL surgeries in his past, the play of the offensive line and the health of Palmer will be a major key to the Cardinals’ success next season.

“[We’re] still trying to search for the starting five,” Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin told Doug and Wolf Tuesday on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “Obviously we’re missing A.Q. Shipley a little bit, but the young guys have come along. Cole Toner has done a good job this offseason and Evan Boehm is coming along.”

This season, the O-line will see some changes as D.J. Humphries is heading to left tackle and veteran Jared Veldheer will make the switch to right tackle.

“We still have a ways to go, they’re both still getting comfortable,” Goodwin said. “The thing with D.J. is he needs to turn it on every day, right now he’s a coaster and we told him this last week that he needs to turn it on every day.

“I just want to make sure that he doesn’t think he’s made it, so every day it’s going to be my foot in his butt, and he’s always going to be knee deep. I don’t care what happens in his career, he’s going to be knee deep as long as he’s around me and BA [head coach Bruce Arians] and [assistant line coach] Larry Zierlein.”

Humphries is heading into his third season after being drafted by the Cardinals 24th in 2015.

He has just 13 games under his belt, all of which came last season. His limited NFL experience at left tackle was due to an injury suffered to Veldheer in October.

Veldheer has expressed wanting to stay at left tackle, a position he’s been at for all seven of his NFL seasons, but Goodwin and the Cardinals coaches believe it will ultimately benefit the team.

“He’s a team player, obviously he said he didn’t want to do it,” Goodwin said. “But at the end of the day it’s about team, and we’re giving ourselves the best chance to win and get ourselves in the dance at the end, and so he’s been about it, and he’s done a good job.”

The Cardinals also added O-line depth in the draft with the additions of Pittsburgh guard Dorian Johnson and Vanderbilt tackle Will Holden.

Johnson could possibly compete for a starting job, but as a rookie he has a steep learning curve when it comes to the playbook.

In college, Goodwin said Johnson may have had to worry about four runs. In Arizona, he may need to know 20 on a given week, Goodwin said.

“He’s coming along, I think he would tell you himself that he’s struggling a little bit from the terminology to trying to learn everything,” Goodwin said. “But the kid has talent, he’s got a ways to go and he’s coming along nicely.”

Rookie or veteran, whoever is blocking for Palmer in 2017 will have to improve upon last season and keep him off the ground.

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Decisions still remain when it comes to Cardinals starting offensive line