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We're coming to the end of looking at the players on the offensive side of the roster, but first we have to look at the interior offensive linemen. This past offseason we saw the team get rid of Lyle Sendlein, a player who was never great, but he was a solid contributor for the team since joining as an undrafted player in 2007.
His departure signaled a changing of the guard at center, a position which now is down to Ted Larsen and AQ Shipley. Shipley knows Arians schemes, and has played center for Arians before, which gives him a slight advantage over Larsen, but that battle won't be decided until training camp. The team also has fresh faces, players moving positions, and guys trying to show they can make it in this league. So without further ado, let's take a look.
Last years left guard, Larsen now moves to center to battle for the hole left by Sendlein's departure. Larsen was nothing more or less than average last season, beating out Jonathan Cooper for the starting role, and playing well the first few games. After that we saw his play slowly fall to mediocrity. He played better when RG Paul Fanaika was injured and Larsen shifted to the right side, but he left much to be desired on the left side. He was not able to get any push, nor was the rest of the line, and was consistently beat by pass rushers. It will be a battle to watch this training camp.
Shipley joined the Cardinals shortly after the free agency period opened up. The 29 year old has worked with Arians in the past, joining the Pittsburgh roster in 2009, but did not get a chance to play until 2012, during Arians tenure with Indianapolis. Fast forward to 2014, Shipley earned the starting role as the Colts center, only to lose it four weeks in. Now in 2015 he's battling to earn the starting job with Ted Larsen. Front offices around the league have never seen him as a starter, due to his short arms. Now it's his chance to show them they have all been wrong.
Coop has had a rough time in his first few years in the league. After an unfortunate broken leg his rookie season, he battled confidence issues and ultimately a wrist injury that ended his second season. In 2015, he makes the transition from the left side to the right side. Accounts from individuals who have the access to the team during OTA's and Minicamp were impressed with Cooper. Bruce Arians praised him for his work ethic and the fact that he has taken better care of his body and reconstructed himself. If Cooper can remain healthy, it will be interesting to see if he can finally live up to the potential the team and media set for him.
An undrafted free agent in 2014, Fullington initially signed with the Packers, but was cut and spent the 2014 season on the 49ers practice squad. Fullington was the 55th ranked offensive guard in 2014, being labeled as a balanced protector who needed to get stronger to have a chance in the NFL. We will see if he has done just that, but it's likely he will not make the roster with the depth the Cardinals have finally built.
The Cardinals recent addition on June 5th, Halapio was a sixth round selection for the Patriots last season. He was rated the 17th best guard coming out of the draft last season. Many teams loved the fact that he blocked with violent intentions, and the fact that he plays through injuries. One of his downfalls however was his inconsistent technique and his durability issues. He played through his injuries, but those injuries were frequent. Halapio could be a candidate to make the roster come 2015.
The Cardinals splash signing this offseason, Iupati is expected to be a key factor in the resurgence of the Cardinals running game. Iupati was stolen from the 49ers, who are now in a spiral with retirements and key players lost. Arians said he isn't a soccer player, and that when the pads come on he'll be the player the team is expecting. Fans are expecting big things from Iupati and Veldheer as it is the strongest side of the offensive line.
McClain was an undrafted player for the Ravens in 2013. McClain has never played a snap in the NFL. He has only been on an active roster for the Bills and Raiders. It is unlike McClain gets past the second round of cuts in August.
The team signed him as an undrafted player in 2014. Many fans thought he could make the move from guard to center with some practice time. Steen has been practicing at left guard this offseason, and could be a PS candidate, given his time with the team.
Watford has been an offseason guy since his second season. Every offseason he was hyped up and looked good, until Training Camp came around and he couldn't do enough to beat out the right guard. Watford had another excellent offseason, and Arians has pointed that out. He got reps at all five positions, and impressed Arians with his play at several. Arians did however say there's no shot Watford plays at center, stating his reps while working there.
And with that, we wrap up our coverage of the offensive side of the ball. Next week will begin with a look at the safeties.