Arizona Cardinals second year offensive lineman Nate Potter was on the radio the other afternoon. He was a guest on XTRA 910 and spoke with Mike Jurecki. They discussed, among other things, how he has progressed in the offeseason, the new coaching staff and his part in getting the running game going in 2013.
Listen to the full interview using the embedded player to stream it or by using this direct link
Potter explained how it is different as a returning player than a rookie. Things are just more familiar. "I wouldn't say 100 percent more comfortable, but it's a whole different world for a guy coming back," he explained. "You've got all that newness out of it, you know all the guys. You've been with the guys for a while and the game, I wouldn't say slows down, but you pick it up faster, so that's nice."
Picking things up faster is one thing that will be nice for Potter. He played in eight games last season, starting the final six games. He had mixed results, but he did much better than the guy he replaced, D'Anthony Batiste.
The one thing that was most been said about Potter was how he needed to get bigger and stronger. He has done that in the offseason, going from 300-305 pounds, where he played last season, to weighing now about 315 pounds. "It''s good weight and I've been trying to get stronger and stronger and it will help me in the long run," he explained, giving a shout out to John Lott the team's strength and conditioning coach.
Potter currently is working with first unit of offensive lineman. He is working as the number one left tackle, as Levi Brown is working out on the side. He tore his triceps in the preseason last year and is working to be ready to go in the fall for training camp. When that happens, Potter is expected to be the main backup on the line. He is able to play tackle on either side and he is expected to learn how to play guard.
However, he has not yet been asked to play guard. He is willing to do it. "I'm willing to do anything I have to do to contribute to this team," he said. "If that means playing guard, I'll love it."
He also explained what is different about playing guard.
"It's a little more compact," he said. "You've got to get used to that.
"Guys are right up on you. Once you adjust to that, it'll come pretty quick because as an offensive line, everyone is learning every position just for that reason. Guys should be able to play guard or tackle because you never know in this game if guys can get hurt in any play. Just the space issue is the biggest thing at guard, but you can get over that."
Potter is impressed with Carson Palmer at quarterback. He called Palmer "a phenomenal leader" who has "a heck of an arm."
However, he was not asked about all the sacks that the unit gave up a year ago. He was asked about the running game and the backs the team now has.
"We've got some great guys back there [at running back]," he said. "There's a great emphasis on us and them to get the running game going.
"A lot of it has to do with the O-line and getting our footwork and our technique down, and getting that mindset that we're gong to get those guys holes, and they're going to hit it downhill."
What type of blocking scheme will the team be using?
"There will definitely be times when Coop (first round pick Jonathan Cooper) will get out there and show his athleticism," described Potter when asked if there was going to be a focus on a zone blocking scheme taht woudl allow Cooper to get out and move around. "But the good thing about this offense is that it's well rounded, so we've got some power game, some zone game, and we're going to be able to use it all."
Potter is benefiting from an increased number of coaches, especially for the offensive line. That has allowed the players to get more reps, as the coaching staff has been splitting up the players 45 on one field and 45 on the other, running simultaneous practices.
"It's great, especially with us young guys, to have the extra eyes, the extra coaches out there," Potter said. "You're getting better every play, and then things aren't sliding. They're going to point out if you had a problem with a certain set or something like that. They're going to point it out, so it's going to help, especially the young guys, to improve a lot."
Potter likes the direction the team is going and that everyone is getting more reps.
Now, if all goes as planned, Potter will not be seeing time on offense. Nonetheless, his development is important, and the fact that he and the other linemen are getting extra work in is going to prove valuable.