Back at tackle, Arizona Cardinals OL Josh Jones is making strides
GLENDALE — The Arizona Cardinals played then-starting right guard Josh Jones out of position last season. Offensive line coach Sean Kugler will be the first person to tell you as much.
After seeing the inconsistencies on the tape, it was clear a change needed to take place this offseason, with Jones flipping back to tackle, a more natural position.
While he may be in a logjam behind starters D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum, that hasn’t stopped Jones from making his mark on the outside this training camp.
“That’s his natural position,” Kugler said earlier this month. “Last year, he was one of our best five. My job as the offensive line coach is to get the best five guys on the field. … He had some ups and downs. He had some good games, he had some rough spots just like all young players do.
“Tackle is his natural position, his long term, and he’s a future starter here at tackle. He could start this year. I feel confident in that. If your third tackle’s capable of starting, you got a good third tackle.”
The team’s first preseason action against the Cincinnati Bengals showed as much.
Getting the start at left tackle, Jones saw a team-high 58 offensive snaps (88%) and was an integral part of a rushing attack that accounted for 112 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries in the 36-23 win.
Jones credits his upped play to the position switch, his offseason work and the words of wisdom being passed down from those getting the nod ahead of him.
“I’ve learned a lot. They taught me how to really push myself, how to really strain and how to be better,” Jones said of Beachum and Humphries. “Everything in the NFL now, how to get better, is so minimal.
“Everything is so small. One punch can make a difference, one tiny move can make a difference. That’s what they really taught me. And just how to be a pro, how to take care of my body.”
The goal now for Jones is to continue working on his consistency. The lineman has shown flashes but knows he needs to bring it more consistently.
That’s the name of the game in the NFL.
“I know I’m an NFL starter,” Jones said Wednesday. “I just got to get there. It takes a lot of work, a lot more work I need to do. I’m just going to keep working until they feel comfortable and I feel comfortable out there to become an NFL starting tackle.”