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Cardinals trying to piece together O-line puzzle

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Bobby Massie made an assumption that a lot of college stars make when he they arrive in the NFL.

"I was going to go out and do the same thing I did on Saturday on Sunday," said Massie, the Cardinals' fourth-round draft pick out of Mississippi in 2012. "It ain't worked out like that, obviously."

Massie started all 16 games at right tackle in his rookie season under former head coach Ken Whisenhunt, but he came to the quick realization that there was more to this NFL thing than an SEC pedigree.

"It was after I gave up about the 12th sack in about six or seven games -- that's when it hit me," Massie said. "I had to change everything I was doing if I wanted to be in the league for long."

Massie played understudy to Eric Winston last season in Bruce Arians' first year as coach, appearing in only eight games and making zero starts. But with Winston an unsigned free agent, Massie has a chance -- maybe his last -- to prove he is ready for the job.

Assuming the Cardinals don't add a free agent before training camp, Massie is in a battle with another Ole Miss alumnus, Bradley Sowell, for the starting right tackle job (Nate Potter could also be in the mix). That is one of two key position battles along the offensive line as the Cardinals engage in their second week of OTAs. The other is at right guard, where incumbent Paul Fanaika is battling 2013 fourth-round pick Earl Watford (free-agent pickup Ted Larsen is another possibility).

"It's wide open," said Arians, while acknowledging that Fanaika "has the benefit of doubt because he's got 16 games on film and he played pretty solid."

In truth, the Cardinals would like to see Massie grab the right tackle spot. It's apparent in the tough-love language of both general manager Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians. When asked why it has taken Massie so long to learn proper technique and apply the playbook, Arians said: "Go ask him. It's not that hard."

There's a reason for this tough love. In Massie, the staff sees a greater talent upside than it sees with Sowell. What the staff still needs to see from him is the substance that Sowell has better mastered.

"No mental errors," Arians said. "Don't turn the blitzer loose that he's responsible for on the edge. Make the proper calls."



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