Arizona Cardinals shuffle offensive line: Boehm benched, others return

Oct 13, 2017, 2:52 PM | Updated: 3:37 pm

Arizona Cardinals' Alex Boone (75) in action during the first half of an NFL football game against ...

Arizona Cardinals' Alex Boone (75) in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Another week, another change to the offensive line.

For the fifth time in six games, the Arizona Cardinals will roll out a different five-man unit up front.

D.J. Humphries and Alex Boone are expected to return to left tackle and left guard, respectively, when the Cardinals host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The two practiced on a limited basis this week, though head coach Bruce Arians sounded encouraged about their game-day availability.

“My biggest concern with both of them right now is conditioning. They haven’t played in awhile,” he said Friday. “We may substitute during the game, something that we don’t normally do; we’ll just see how it goes.”

Humphries has not played since the season opener after hurting his right knee in the first quarter at Detroit. Boone, meanwhile, has missed each of the past two weeks because of a slight pectoral strain.

“I don’t know if I’m worried about (conditioning). I mean, I’m tired every game. It’s football. Being tired is not something that I think about. I’m going to be tired regardless,” Humphries said, adding about Arians perhaps subbing either him or Boone out of the game, “That’s his call. That’s above my pay grade. I ain’t got nothing to do with that. Whatever he decides, that’s how we’re going to roll with it and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Injuries have forced the Cardinals into using four different players at left guard. Last week, it was Earl Watford, who had just been signed off the street.

This week, Watford will probably start at right guard, according to Arians.

Watford was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars before the start of the season. His first four years in the league were spent with the Cardinals.

“I didn’t forget anything,” he said. “Little tweaks here and there; just more technique-wise, just getting back in the groove of running things like we did before.”

Watford replaces Evan Boehm, who had started the first five games of the season.

“He’s more of a natural center,” Arians said, referring to Boehm. “The holding penalties, he got himself in trouble. That’s hurt us. When Earl came in, he knows the offense. It’s a natural fit. Picked (the offense) up even quicker than I thought he would coming back. But, I still think Boehm is going to be a hell of a center someday and his position flexibility is very strong for us on Sundays now.”

For Humphries, it’s been a long wait to get back on the field.

“I told somebody the other day, it kind of feels like my rookie year again. This is pretty miserable. It’s pretty miserable. There were a lot of games I didn’t make just because I wasn’t traveling and not being able to play, I don’t want to be that guy on the sideline with the stank face that’s mad because he can’t play. I don’t want to be that guy,” he said.

“I’m just so happy to be able to be back sweating with my guys. Get out there and battle with them again. I missed it so much. I’m just excited to get back out there with them boys.”

Humphries, however, has never played in a game with Boone. Yes, they’ve practiced together, but Sunday will mark their first time together in game.

“It felt like me and Boone fell right back into place. It didn’t feel like there was any hiccup. We fell right back into place,” Humphries said. “Earl fell right back into place. He’s been gone for a whole year now and it felt like he’s been here the whole camp. We’re looking good right now; just got to put the same stuff on the grass on gameday.”

Only once this season has the Cardinals started the same offensive line in back-to-back weeks. And three-fifths of the line has undergone at least one change.

Center A.Q. Shipley and right tackle Jared Veldheer are the only mainstays.

At 2-3 the Cardinals have many concerns. Solidifying the offensive line, though, may go a long way in beginning to answer a lot of their questions.

“We have way more talent in the room than what’s been shown. It’s just a lot of moving parts. Like we said all the time, it’s no excuses, it’s no excuses,” Humphries said. “All of us can go to practice, all of us sit in meetings, all of us know what we’re doing so it’s no excuses but I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to make some things jell a little bit differently now that everybody is back together.”

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