It’s rare to see a player in professional sports go from not playing at all one season to starting the next.
That’s what might be happening at right tackle for the Arizona Cardinals with D.J. Humphries.
The 2015 first-round pick did not appear in a game in his rookie season, and is now in an open competition for the starting spot at right tackle.
Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin was not shy about Humphries’ immaturity in his rookie season.
“Let’s be honest, he was a little immature,” Goodwin said.
The growth, however, from last season to this season, is apparent.
“I think he’s a little bit more focused, he’s matured a whole bunch,” Goodwin said. “I don’t think he’s quite there, but it’s night and day from far as last year being on the grass and this year.”
Part of that growth has come from a new veteran on the offensive line Evan Mathis, who is slotting in at right guard this season.
“One of the things I told Evan I wanted him to do was help D.J. grow up, and in the first meeting, as soon as Evan walked in the room, he mandated that D.J. sit next to him,” Goodwin said.
That’s formed a good relationship between the two according to both players.
“Me and Evan have similar personalities,” Humphries said on Bickley & Marotta Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “It’s not like (he’s) this old stone cold guy that doesn’t want to talk to this young kid. Evan is a good communicator like I am. If I did something wrong I’m going to need you to tell me what you need from me, and vice versa.”
Mathis spoke on his initial thoughts of the second-year tackle and the process of helping him grow.
“He’s got a good attitude, he’s got what it takes, and us older guys are just trying to work hard with him,” Mathis said. “He’s definitely working real hard.
“Helping a guy understand how to process mistakes, helping a guy understand how to process coaching, to where it’s not taken the wrong way,” Mathis said. “It’s not reacting, it’s all about understanding the message, and that’s something that D.J. has gotten better and better at.”
That’s big for a young player like Humphries according to Goodwin.
“It’s huge, just having someone who can talk to him, calm him down, and from a D.J. standpoint, he gets to see a Pro Bowl player at work every day.”