ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals’ D.J. Humphries determined to reach full potential in 2019

Jul 28, 2019, 5:41 PM | Updated: Jul 29, 2019, 11:19 am

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28:  John Simon #51 of the Houston Texans rushes the quarterback and is blocke...

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: John Simon #51 of the Houston Texans rushes the quarterback and is blocked by D.J. Humphries #74 of the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. The Texans defeated the Cardinals 34-24. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The road for Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman D.J. Humphries hasn’t always been the smoothest.

He was once called “Knee-deep” as a rookie, but showed flashes of his true ability when out on the field. Just as things were trending up, the injuries came, limiting the lineman to just 14 games over the past two seasons.

While some believe Humphries is yet another first-round draft choice that hasn’t panned out for Arizona in recent memory, the tackle is paying no mind to the talk as the team embarks on a new year with a new regime at the helm.

Instead, Humphries focused on showing the rest of the NFL just what kind of motor he has and how much better he can truly be.

“I’m right in there,” Humphries said when asked where he ranked in terms of NFL tackles. “Especially when we’re talking about run blocking, I’m a top-10 run-blocking tackle in the league. I don’t feel like that’s something to argue about, I feel like that’s a fact.

“As long as I can continue to bring my pass protection along like I’ve been doing, I feel like I’m trending to be one of those guys in the future that we’re looking at.”

And while it’s a contract year for the lineman, when talking to Cardinals players and coaches, it’s clear Humphries has an added drive not associated with the dollar amount on his check.

“He looks good, he looks healthy, he’s excited,” Cardinals first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury said of Humphries.

“He knows what this year could mean for him and for us and he’s approached it that way. I was impressed by the way he handled his rehab and showed up every day in the offseason. He’s gotten better and better.”

Marcus Gilbert, who has followed Humphries from his college days, has seen the talent exuding from Humphries for years.

“With the potential that he has and the athletic, God-given ability that he has, he can walk out of here as the best left tackle in history,” Gilbert said when asked about Humphries. “I told him, ‘name me the last great left tackle that played here.’ It took him time.

“But I said that’s why they drafted you … and you show flashes of being a great and you can set yourself up for life and you can really make a name for yourself. What a big honor it would be to get your name on the Ring of Honor and he’s been practicing and had the same mentality like that this whole camp. I just want him to reach his full potential which he has been doing.”

Some of the biggest variables no one can predict, however, are injuries. Something that has haunted Humphries throughout his NFL career.

While he managed to start 13 games in 2016, Humphries played in just five and nine games in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

The injuries were nothing minor either, as Humphries dealt with multiple MCL issues.

When healthy, Humphries has shown he can be a crucial piece to the offense, especially in the run game.

“There’s not a tackle out there in the NFC besides Jason Peters or Trent Williams with that kind of footwork,” Gilbert said. “He has to utilize a lot of those God-given abilities that he has, and I think he’s very capable of being the top tackle in this league.”

In the five games he played in 2017, Humphries was rated as the fifth-best run blocker in the league by Pro Football Focus. The next season he fell to 11th in the standings, but limited his penalties to just two false starts in nine games (522 snaps). He had five total penalties in 2017.

“I told D.J. since he got here, he’s one of the most talented guys I’ve ever seen,” Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley said. “He just has to put a full season together, and I think he knows that.”

Shipley added that he saw some of the best run-blocking tapes by a tackle in the NFL from his fellow lineman against San Francisco two seasons ago, but it has got to be every day.

And while Humphries knows he needs to fine-tune his pass protection, he’s not the only one to blame from last season’s dismal results.

The Cardinals offensive line was last in nearly every category, highlighted by a dead-last ranking in pass protection. The team saw 10 different offensive line combinations and ended the season with none of its projected starters from training camp as injuries depleted the roster.

Things went bad in a hurry.

Humphries knows that, but instead of living in the past, he’s turning the page to the future and focused intently on working on his craft.

“[Tyron Smith and Trent Williams] are the guys I watch,” Humphries said. “I know just watching their film, they are trying to be the best so that’s the type of thing I mimic is making sure. I’m not trying to be a Tyron Smith, I’m not trying to be a Trent Williams.

“I’m trying to be the best version of me. And I know that that’s how those guys got to be Tyron and Trent and Jason Peters. They’re just being the best versions of themselves. They’re not trying to be nobody else and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. Just try to perfect my skills every day.”

It’s not just his play that’s elevated, either.

While he isn’t the oldest vet in the locker room, Humphries has grasped a leadership role among his fellow teammates.

“I just encourage him to keep taking that [leadership] role,” Gilbert said. “Because he and Kyler [Murray] are going to be here a lot longer than I am if they keep it up.”

Array
Presented By
Western Governors University

Presented By
Western Governors University

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals D.J. Humphries...

Vincent DeAngelis

Cardinals’ OT D.J. Humphries talks Marvin Harrison Jr., recovery from torn ACL

Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle D.J. Humphries expressed that he thinks Marvin Harrison Jr. is too easy to miss in the 2024 NFL Draft.

14 hours ago

Malik Nabers speaks with reporters at 2024 NFL Draft Combine...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals add Malik Nabers, not Marvin Harrison Jr., in Lance Zierlein’s latest mock draft

NFL.com's Lance Zierlein zigged instead of zagged on Monday, mock-drafting Malik Nabers, not Marvin Harrison Jr., to the Cardinals at No. 4.

15 hours ago

Jacob Cowing runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL Draft Combine...

Tyler Drake

Projecting where Arizona Cardinals could draft NFL Combine standouts

A look at some of the combine standouts who could fill a Cardinals' need and how they could realistically find their way to Arizona:

18 hours ago

Notre Dame offensive lineman Joe Alt runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, Mar...

Tom Kuebel

Cardinals could trade up to pick OL prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft

After an impressive showing by the offensive lineman at the 2024 NFL Draft Combine, the Cardinals might have to trade up from pick No. 27 to get a top prospect.

2 days ago

Rome Odunze...

Alex Weiner

How did Rome Odunze measure at NFL Draft Combine after meeting with Cardinals?

Before taking the field to run the 40-yard dash, Rome Odunze met with several teams sitting atop the draft, including the Cardinals.

2 days ago

Olumuyiwa Fashanu...

Jesse Morrison

NFL Draft OL prospect Olu Fashanu had ‘smooth meeting’ with Cardinals, Jonathan Gannon

One of the top prospects in the NFL draft, offensive tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu seemed interested in the Cardinals at the NFL combine.

3 days ago

Cardinals’ D.J. Humphries determined to reach full potential in 2019