Whether it has been protecting Carson Palmer on a 10-plus win team or a rookie quarterback in Josh Rosen, the Arizona Cardinals offensive line has been a problem for years. The group was the worst in the NFL last season and was the seventh-worst in the season before, according to Pro Football Focus.
An offseason full of changes did not leave the offensive line short. Guards Max Garcia and J.R. Sweezy and tackle Desmond Harrison all came in as free agents, and the team has tackle Justin Pugh returning from a season-ending knee injury sustained in Week 10.
These additions have new offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert giddy.
“There’s a ton of new guys and new faces,” he told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Tuesday. “A lot of veterans on the offensive line. I’m just excited.”
Sweezy is someone Gilbert has hit it off with.
“It was like we’d been playing together for a number of years,” he said. “We work in unison together.”
Gilbert was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Cardinals in March for a sixth-round pick. It ended Gilbert’s eight-year tenure with the team.
Those eight years bring another veteran presence to the line.
“…My knowledge of the game, being able to share this to a lot of the other guys and what I see from different defenses on the field. I think that’s my main thing that I bring to this offensive line,” he said.
Gilbert cited current Broncos offensive line coach Mike Munchak, who coached Gilbert in Pittsburgh for five seasons, as a key to his success.
Sweezy’s presence has helped Gilbert adjust, but another has also helped the move. Current Cardinals offensive line coach Sean Kugler coached Gilbert in Pittsburgh during his first two years with the team.
“The demeanor that he sets, the precedent that he sets and what he expects out of us in the offensive line room, is unpaired,” he said.
“He knows what he is doing.”
And with a new rookie quarterback in Kyler Murray to protect, Kugler and the offensive line will have to live up to the expectations.