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ESPN: Cardinals OT Humphries has a make-or-break season ahead

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) celebrates his touchdown catch against the San Francisco 49ers with teammate D.J. Humphries (74) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

D.J. Humphries should have a grand opportunity in front of him. For the first time in his career, his quarterback should be operating in his favor.

What rookie signal-caller Kyler Murray will lack in experience he should make up for in mobility and a quick trigger arm.

The Arizona Cardinals have allowed 52 quarterback sacks in each of the past two years, making for a total tied for the second-worst mark over that span, and it’s the offensive line health and production that could swing head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s first season in the NFL. Humphries falls in line with that thought, and considering it’s a contract year for the left tackle, probably no other player on the roster has such a significant fork in the road in front of him for the 2019 season.

That’s why Humphries made ESPN’s list of 10 NFL players entering make-or-break years.

Injuries have kept the 2015 first-round pick from attaining the potential the Cardinals saw in him, and he’s playing this season on a $9.625 million fifth-year rookie contract option. All eyes are on the ability of the Cardinals’ offensive line to protect top overall pick Kyler Murray, and a healthy and productive Humphries would go a long way toward helping with that.

For the Cardinals, a decision to retain their starting left tackle or let him walk will await them at the end of the year.

Humphries has been the victim of bad injury luck and a disappointing situation. Drafted 24th overall in 2015 as a high-upside pick, he was infamously nicknamed “Knee-deep” by former head coach Bruce Arians as the NFL learning curve smacked him in the face as a rookie.

Two MCL injuries limited him to five games in 2017, but he flashed his upside in that limited span. Humphries appeared in nine games last year before another knee issue ended his season with an appointment on the injured reserve list.

Humphries isn’t the only wild card along the Cardinals offensive line. Injuries have affected potential starters at every other position.

But the situation should benefit Humphries and his teammates; that includes an offense where the ball is getting to the perimeter quickly and more often, a quarterback who might be one of the fastest players on the field and a running back in David Johnson who wants to show he’s one of the most dynamic players in the NFL.

Those things should give Humphries a chance — if he can remain healthy.

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