Two ESPN writers aren’t buying the Cardinals’ offensive line

Sep 8, 2017, 8:50 AM | Updated: 11:33 am

Arizona Cardinals' Carson Palmer (3) braces for a sack as Carolina Panthers' Kawann Short (99) team...

Arizona Cardinals' Carson Palmer (3) braces for a sack as Carolina Panthers' Kawann Short (99) teams up with Mario Addison (97) during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. The Panthers won 30-20. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

(AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

A position shift, a hurt arm, short arms, too little experience and a potential retirement on the mind. Check off those five problems for the five starters along the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line.

The tape didn’t lie.

Quarterback Carson Palmer did get sacked 40 times in 2016, fifth-most in the NFL. Other metrics concluded the Cardinals allowed the third-most hits to their quarterback.

Everyone can agree Palmer took a beating as his receiver group limped through the year and the offensive line shuffled on a weekly basis due to injuries. The line may be relatively healthy just days from the season-opener at Detroit — guard Mike Iupati’s triceps issue could be a concern — but two ESPN NFL reporters aren’t buying the unit’s pass protection abilities.

Matt Bowen and Mike Sando picked Palmer to lead the NFL in sacks taken by the end of 2017, an ominous prediction for the sake of Arizona’s success.

Bowen: His lack of mobility behind an inconsistent offensive line remains a concern.

Sando: He came close (to leading the NFL) last season despite missing a game. Palmer should be back near the top again.

The writers’ colleague, Field Yates, picked Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian to lead the NFL in sacks taken.

Even if the Arizona offensive line is healthy, question marks remain.

Third-year pro D.J. Humphries only played a partial season as starting left tackle last year, and the man he displaced, Jared Veldheer, contemplated retirement this offseason. Second-year guard Evan Boehm is another young player with much to prove on the right side of measurement-challenged — yet consistent — center A.Q. Shipley.

Throw in Iupati’s injury that’s lingered over the past week heading into Week 1, consider Arizona’s latest roster move was the addition of veteran lineman Alex Boone, and it’s clear the Cardinals are aware there are at least depth issues along the offensive line.

Regardless of Palmer’s own health — he says his arm feels fresh after a cautious offseason of limited reps — the quarterback’s success, as it stands heading into the year, is less about him and more about those around him. The receivers can take blame in some of the sacks a year ago as well.

But strong pass protection might be atop the Cardinals’ wish-list heading into the year.


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