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Arizona Cardinals offensive line offers hope, but also worry

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The Cardinals looked to improve their offensive line, but it comes with a big risk.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals-OTA Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: Over the next several weeks, we will be having new writers come in and offer their take on things.

Today’s author is John Lund:

Over the past two years, the Cardinals offensive line has struggled to protect Carson Palmer. Injuries had lineman in and out of the lineup and Palmer was hit, beaten, and battered for the better part of his final two seasons in the desert.

However, with the 2018 offseason, the Cardinals make big changes.

Bruce Arians retires. Also gone is his offense that valued getting everyone into patterns and taking five and seven step drops and pushing the ball down field. Instead, Steve Wilks is the new Head Coach, who has said he values a run first offense, and play action off the run. He and his OC Mike McCoy believe they can run David Johnson, while using a quick rhythmic passing game.

Another Change, Offensive Line Coach Harold Goodwin has been replaced by Ray Brown. This run first style of offense is perfect for Brown. He is an upgrade to the OLine and has helped build some very good young offensive linemen over the past 7 years in Carolina. That includes this year’s biggest FA lineman, Andrew Norwell, who went from undrafted to pro-bowler under Brown.

The Cards did not stop there. They signed Justin Pugh to play RG, a spot that has needed someone for several years. They traded Jared Veldheer to the Broncos and signed Andre Smith for RT. The draft brought Mason Cole, who could challenge for starting center. The cards also lowered the cap number for LG Mike Iupati and will have Center AQ Shipley returning. The biggest boast could come from the missing first rounder from 2015, DJ Humphries.

On the surface, this O-Line, under Brown, and with a quick passing game and run first offense, should excel. Nevertheless, there are questions.

Starting with Humphries. He has only started 18 games out of a possible 48 games. He has only played five games at LT.

Moving in to LG, Iupati missed all of last year but a little of game one, and in 2016, played poorly.

The short-armed center Shipley is limited at what he can do, as he does not move well nor does he have the desired length for the position.

Justin Pugh, although a solid player when healthy, only played 19 of the 32 games the past two years.

Then comes Smith, who at one time was a solid RT. Over the last 4 years, Smith has started only 35 of the possible 64 games. Playing 50% of the games over 4 years does not bode well for the cards.

Therefore, while everything points to a much-improved O-Line, fans could be in store for more starters missing time, backups playing and unfortunately, QBs going down. Not a good sign for the fragile Sam Bradford.