ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals notebook: Josh Jones making most of right guard opportunities

Aug 8, 2021, 7:07 AM

GLENDALE — The Arizona Cardinals’ starting offensive line looks nearly locked in following Saturday’s Red & White practice.

Nearly.

The right guard spot remains up for grabs, and with injuries sidelining offseason addition Brian Winters and Justin Murray, the team has gotten an extended look at Josh Jones at the position.

And from the sound of it, he’s answering the call.

“He’s really doing a nice job in there,” run game coordinator and offensive line coach Sean Kugler said Saturday. “That was the plan all along to give him opportunity reps at guard and tackle, but he’s been exclusively at guard and that’s probably how it will be for the first preseason game.

“But I’ve been very pleased with him, he’s made a lot of progress not only on the field but off the field. He’s really made a good leap from Year 1 to year 2. Kid’s got a bright future and he fits right in with that group so there’s still gonna be battles at that spot and I got three really competitive guys battling for it and that only makes your offensive line stronger.”

The second-year pro appeared in 13 games last season as a rookie and originally played left tackle during his college days at Houston.

The switch from tackle to guard is easier said than done.

“I got so much respect for Josh coming in … watching him not even bat an eyelash, think about, and go out there and work on his set and work it every day and try hard it’s impressive to watch him,” left tackle D.J. Humphries said Friday. “I like Josh’s future. I think he’s gonna be really good for us.”

It’s evident Jones has made the most of his opportunity, regularly getting first-team reps throughout training camp.

Jones may be earning high praise early on from his coaches and peers, but when talking most improved lineman, Kugler believes that honor belongs to Josh Miles.

It was just a matter of time says the coach.

“I really thought when we took him three years ago it was probably gonna take about three years,” Kugler said. “I really felt Year 3 you would start to see the dividends of him paying off. He’s an outstanding athlete, he’s long, he can bend and he plays with an edge.

“It was just he didn’t have the football background of some of these other guys coming from big programs. It’s been a developmental process for him but he’s ready to step on the field here pretty soon been very proud of him.”

While Miles figures to slot behind Humphries at the left tackle spot this season, Max Garcia has been moved from guard to backing up Rodney Hudson at center.

Garcia, in his seventh NFL season, has played exclusively at center throughout training camp and has more than gained Kugler’s trust that he can handle what the job entails.

“Max Garcia’s done an outstanding job, a very unselfish player,” Kugler said. “He’s our backup center now and really has done an outstanding job all camp. He brings a lot of physicality to that position. He’s 315 [pounds], he’s strong and he don’t get pushed back.”

Garcia played in 14 games for the Cardinals last season, up from seven the year prior.

Prater takes ‘aim small, miss small’ approach with skinny uprights

The Cardinals have had not one but two field goal posts for kicker Matt Prater to aim at throughout training camp.

While you might say that’s normal for a football field, this circumstance is anything but.

Not only is the kicker using the two sets of uprights on the same side of the field, one of the field goals is more than half the size of the other. And it’s for good reason.

“I like kicking on those because going into the week I try only looking at those,” Prater said. “It’s kinda like the old saying, ‘Aim small, miss small’ type thing, so I like practicing on those so when I look at those all week, go to the stadium Sunday and they look huge.”

The goalposts sit at nine feet wide, less than half the size of typical uprights (18 feet, six inches).

It may take some getting used to, but whatever works for Prater, he was a perfect 5-for-5 on Saturday, works for the Cardinals.

“Our equipment staff did a great job of putting that together,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Tuesday. “I like the idea of it, makes sense to me.”

Arizona Cardinals

Budda Baker during Week 12 practice...

Arizona Sports

Budda Baker ranked as top 10 safety in ESPN rankings

An ESPN poll of NFL executives, scouts and coaches had the Arizona Cardinals' Budda Baker ranked as a top-10 safety.

3 hours ago

Bilal Nichols looks on...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals’ Bilal Nichols paying it forward with 3rd annual youth football camp

Growing up with two monumental role models in his grandparents, Bilal Nichols is hoping he can be the same to those in his hometown.

6 hours ago

Kyler Murray smiles...

Tyler Drake

49ers turned to Cardinals fans in Arizona’s win vs. Eagles: ‘Get ’em, Kyler Murray!’

The San Francisco 49ers had a major rooting interest in the Arizona Cardinals' Week 17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

2 days ago

Trey McBride runs the rock...

Tyler Drake

Trey McBride outside of top 10 tight ends in ESPN ranking

An ESPN poll of NFL executives, scouts and coaches had the Arizona Cardinals' Trey McBride outside of the top-10 tight ends.

2 days ago

Budda Baker runs through drills during practice...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals Corner podcast: Diving into the offseason mailbag

Should Budda Baker get extended? Cardinals Corner's Tyler Drake and guest host Kevin Zimmerman answer that and more in an offseason mailbag.

3 days ago

Dennis Gardeck runs out of the tunnel...

Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals’ Dennis Gardeck is all about the dad life: ‘It’s slept on’

There's just something about being a dad. Just ask Arizona Cardinals pass rusher and first-time father Dennis Gardeck.

3 days ago

Cardinals notebook: Josh Jones making most of right guard opportunities