Because of injuries and a looming suspension, the Arizona Cardinals have to make decisions about players who will start. At right tackle, because of an expected three-game suspension of right tackle Bobby Massie, journeyman Bradley Sowell is getting work with the starters in place of first round pick D.J. Humphries.
But at nose tackle, after losing starter Corey Peters for the season to a torn Achilles, head coach Bruce Arians put fourth round pick Rodney Gunter in the starting lineup.
Arians had a clever quote about why Sowell over Humphries. "Bradley's a pro," Saiid Arians. "He shows up every day. D.J.'s a rookie. He shows up once every week."
That's funny and everything, but if you think about it, it was why Humphries was drafted -- to play right tackle. Indeed, he is very young, but the move to put another rookie -- Gunter -- into a starting job at a position that is open for the entire season
What does that say about Gunter? What does that say about Alameda Ta'amu, who has the same time in the league as Sowell and has gotten significant playing time before in the league?
Does it mean Gunter is just harder working as a fourth rounder than Humphries as a first rounder? Does it mean Ta'amu is less of a professional than Sowell? After all, Ta'amu was absolutely dominant when he played in 2013 before his knee injury. Sowell, as starting left tackle, was passable, at best.
There is another factor, though. Arians said the team wants more than just a traditional two-gapping nose tackle, which is the type of player Dan Williams was and the type of player Ta'amu is. It is why they let Williams go in favor of Peters. Gunter can do the same things Peters can. He is just much less experienced.
How much of it was scheme and how much of it was something to say about the work ethic of the rookie and the big guy?