Will Hernandez doesn’t take his re-signing with Cardinals lightly
Jun 14, 2023, 5:17 PM
(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Will Hernandez is a self-proclaimed desert rat at his core.
Having grown up in Las Vegas and enduring the heat that came with it, the lineman quickly felt right at home in Arizona after signing a one-year deal with the franchise in 2022.
So when the Cardinals came calling again for a consecutive offseason, albeit under a new regime and with a two-year contract in hand, it was an easy choice for Hernandez to make.
As he put it Wednesday with a smile, “once I got a little taste of Phoenix, I didn’t really want to leave.”
But aesthetics and location aside, working out a deal with new general manager Monti Ossenfort is something the lineman does not take for granted. If anything, it gave him further motivation to perform.
“I’m going to give him everything I got. It’s the only thing I know how to do,” Hernandez said. “I don’t take it lightly when you get extended or a new contract, because when that happens, they’re literally signing their name onto you. They believe in you, they’re putting their names on the line for you.
“I’m definitely going to go out there and play for my teammates first and foremost, but I’m definitely going to play for the opportunity I was given, too.”
Hernandez’s first season in Arizona was one filled with ups and downs. He began the year well behind eight consecutive starts before a pectoral injury in Week 9 sidelined him for four weeks. He eventually returned in Week 14 and finished the season.
Despite the missed time, Hernandez was the most consistent presence on the line outside of Kelvin Beachum, who started every game in 2022, as injuries plagued the unit throughout the year.
Hernandez and the line also went through a sudden coaching switch following the midseason dismissal of former OL coach Sean Kugler.
The changes have only continued this offseason with the departures of veterans Rodney Hudson (retirement) and Justin Pugh (free agent) in addition to a new regime.
And that’s OK, says a lineman in a league where change is among the only constants.
“After you’ve had four offensive line coaches in one year, you tend to get used to the switches, so no biggie,” Hernandez said.
“You see a lot and you learn a lot, especially having a lot of different coaches in one year. It’s nothing new. We’re good, we’re adapting quickly and that’s just the way it is.”
– On if 6-foot-2, 327-pounder has encountered anyone as big or as strong as himself these days:
“We’ll go back to (center/guard Hjalte Froholdt) on that one.”