Rookie center Mason Cole will be getting his start earlier than expected, and as that nears, he can look to other teammates who were thrown into the mix right away for advice.
Standing next to him will be right guard Justin Pugh. Pugh started all 16 games of his rookie season at right tackle in 2013 with the New York Giants. A former first-round draft pick, Pugh still feels there’s no way to fully simulate the experience of playing in a game.
“I think until you get out there, it’s that first game,” he said. “Playing in the preseason games will definitely help him out, but when you get out there, you’re lined up, and it’s the real deal, you’re obviously going to have some jitters.
“But we know he’s ready for it, and we’re excited for him. So we’re getting ready to go out there, and it starts today.”
While Cole feels confident, he has already acknowledged how much he’ll be relying on the veterans lining up alongside him.
“The whole offensive line – to have that many veterans around you, that many years of experience around you, that’s huge, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” he said.
Even before A.Q. Shipley went down Saturday with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Cole was already soaking up what knowledge he could from the seventh-year veteran.
“(I) learned a lot from him my first few months being here, and I still will learn a lot from him, but I’m confident I can fill in and hopefully play as good as he did,” said Cole, who talked to Shipley Monday morning.
Cardinals rookie Mason Cole comments on the loss of veteran center A.Q. Shipley at training camp.
Rob Schumacher, azcentral sports
Across the line of scrimmage, defensive tackle Rodney Gunter can also lend some relatable advice. After Corey Peters went down with a torn Achilles’ during training camp in 2015, Gunter played all 16 regular season games of his rookie season and started 11 of them.
“All I gotta say to Mason Cole is stay confident,” Gunter said. “I was that guy, too, my rookie year. With an injury, I had to be next man up. He’ll pretty good; I believe in him.”
Cole has received support from outside of his fellow linemen, as well. Veteran leader Larry Fitzgerald gave Cole an encouraging head-butt on Saturday when he stepped in on reps with the first team.
“To have a guy like that show his confidence in me is huge,” Cole said. “(I’m) just excited to be a part of these guys and help these guys and have them help me.”
A few other veterans, from running back David Johnson to Peters weighed in, saying the biggest adjustment for Cole will be the mental aspect of the game. Physically, he’s there, they said. Now, it just comes down to cementing the playbook in his head as he continues to make adjustments ahead of the first preseason game.
“Just setting the protections, making the calls,” said Cole, when asked what he’s focusing on. “I think that’s the biggest thing, just making sure that all five guys are on the same page, and if we’re on the same page, then the guys in the backfield are on the same page.
“So if I can do that, we can do that, I think that will be huge.”
Cardinals release depth chart
The Cardinals released an unofficial depth chart on Monday ahead of Saturday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
First-round draft pick Josh Rosen is now listed as the second-string quarterback behind Sam Bradford. While coach Steve Wilks has been firm throughout the summer on starting Bradford, at the beginning of camp he said the second spot was still up for grabs between Rosen and sixth-year veteran Mike Glennon.
Rookie running back Chase Edmonds has looked solid throughout camp running with the first and second teams. He’s now listed right behind star David Johnson, who has been impressed with Edmonds, a fourth-round draft pick out of Fordham.
“I think he’s smarter than I was when I was a rookie,” Johnson said. “Being able to pick up the offensive scheme, and being able to really utilize that in the practices and knowing what he’s supposed to do … I think he’s going to be a great running back with us.”
Still, Johnson thinks the group as a whole is high-caliber, and he’s happy with the competition that brings.
“We have some great running backs,” Johnson said, before citing each of the other five running backs on the roster. “I’m glad it’s going to be tough for the coaches to decide which guys to keep.”
Some other points of note:
- Behind Fitzgerald, the No. 2 wide receiver is Brice Butler, who had 15 receptions for 317 for the Dallas Cowboys last season.
- Defensive end Benson Mayowa is listed as starting opposite Chandler Jones.
- Jamar Taylor is the starting cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson.
- Wilks has repeatedly placed an emphasis on special teams. T.J. Logan is listed for kick returns, and rookie Christian Kirk is on punt-return duty.
Captains yet to be named
The Cardinals are still waiting to name captains for Saturday’s game. Eventually, Wilks will pass that responsibility on to the players, but this week, he’ll make the call.
“During the preseason, I take control of that and just name the captains,” he said. “Once we get to the regular season, I like for the players, I like for the peers to vote on who they think should be their captain.”
Wilks hasn’t publicly named the captains for Saturday, though he has mentally made his picks.
“I don’t want to name them right now,” he said. “I’d like to speak to the team first.”