During training camp, Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Cole Toner will join Doug and Wolf every morning on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station, to give an inside look at the daily grind of camp and a personal view of how his 2017 preparation is coming along.
Any time a rookie enters the NFL, his head is spinning.
Transitioning from college football and draft preparation to being on an NFL roster is a whirlwind of an experience.
But in year two, things start to slow down. That’s where Cardinals offensive lineman Cole Toner is in his NFL journey. No longer a rookie, not a vested veteran. Obviously, there is still learning to be done, but things are much more familiar.
That’s part of the reason why Toner graded out pretty well in Arizona’s preseason opener, a 20-18 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Toner started at center and played 31 offensive snaps in the game, many coming in the early stages when the Cardinals built a 15-0 first-quarter lead.
“I thought I played pretty well,” Toner said Tuesday morning, pointing out one play that didn’t go so well. “You’re right about that screen pass. I kind of messed up on that because it was a blitz and I kind of freaked out and didn’t know how to approach that.
“There’s about two plays that I would like to get back, but other than that, I thought it was a solid start for me at center. I’m glad to have one under my belt at center because that was my first game there, so I should be more comfortable continuing forward.”
The play in question was a screen pass Blaine Gabbert threw to Andre Ellington on the first play of the second quarter. Toner released defensive lineman Woody Baron a little too early on the play, speeding up the process and putting Gabbert under pressure. However, the pass was complete and gained four yards, so if that’s Toner’s worst play of the game, I’m sure everyone will take it.
One game at center doesn’t make anyone a grizzled veteran, but Toner is a lot more in-tune with what he’s doing this year as opposed to his rookie camp last summer.
“I’m so much more comfortable. Before last year’s first preseason game, we were in the tunnel. It was against Oakland at home, so we’re in the tunnel about to come out and it was ‘oh my God, this is crazy. This is the NFL,'” Toner said. “Even though it was a preseason game, the stadium was still pretty packed and it’s loud.
“Before this one, I was just focused on what my calls are going to be, what looks they were probably going to throw at us. I was calm and ready to go.”
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