Will Hernandez helps fill out Cardinals’ RG need, reunites with Sean Kugler

Mar 28, 2022, 3:08 PM | Updated: Mar 30, 2022, 1:13 pm

Recently signed Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Will Hernandez has yet to play a single down with his new teammates.

The ink on his one-year contract is still drying yet he already has a strong connection within Arizona’s locker room in offensive line coach and run game coordinator Sean Kugler.

Hernandez credits a lot of the attitude, nastiness and overall success he’s had in his football career to Kugler, who was the lineman’s head coach during his college days at UTEP.

Now, the duo reunites at the highest level, a major reason into why the lineman landed in the Valley this free agency.

“I feel like he’s one of the main reasons why I even made it to the NFL in the first place,” Hernandez said Monday. “Me and him have very strong connection, very good relationship and one we kept over the years as well. … Being able to get coached up under him again is only going to help me and is only going to help this team.

“We understand each other very well, we know what we expect out of each other. We respect each other and I feel like we’re only going to be able to bring out the best in each of us. So I’m very excited about it. I know it’s only going to be up from here, and it’s nothing but positive.”

On top of his familiarity with Kugler, there’s also a continuity aspect that can’t be overlooked. During his four years with the Giants, Hernandez had three different OL coaches. He now joins a Cardinals run game and O-line that have shown noticeable improvement under Kugler’s tutelage as well as an organization that just handed out extensions to its head coach and general manager through 2027.

The connections go beyond just Kugler, too, with Hernandez familiar with most of his new teammates in the trenches.

He may not have had any overlap with Justin Pugh during their New York Giants days, but Hernandez looks up to the fellow guard a lot. They’ve never hung out, but have talked and texted over the years.

Hernandez shares the same agency as center Rodney Hudson and spent time with him during a recent Super Bowl. He’s also met right tackle Kelvin Beachum during a Nate Solder summer camp.

For the most part, the only other starting lineman Hernandez doesn’t know is left tackle D.J. Humphries, who is well known for his fun demeanor and overall commitment to the group as a whole.

Hernandez isn’t about to hang his hat on past relationships, however. He wants to prove he’s a great fit in the OL room through hard work and a no-quit mentality.

“I think it’s gonna start with putting in the work and getting the respect out of these guys and making a connection with them, because offensive line that’s what it is,” Hernandez said. “We all work as one. That’s the first thing I want to do.

“As far as getting after it and being hard and tough and working hard and playing for one another, I don’t think we’ll have a problem with that on my end.”

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