Arians won't say if changes coming for Cardinals O-line
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Left guard Mike Iupati appears close to returning from a knee injury and right tackle Bobby Massie is back at practice after a two-game suspension, but Arizona coach Bruce Arians wasn't prepared on Wednesday to say if either of them would start for the Cardinals' game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
For Iupati, it's purely a matter of health. If the knee is ready, Iupati will be starting against his former 49ers teammates.
Massie's situation is a bit more complicated. He was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy and was reinstated on Monday. Third-year lineman Earl Watford started in Massie's absence, while Ted Larsen played in Iupati's spot.
In wins over New Orleans and Chicago, the line did not allow a sack and run blocked well enough for the Cardinals to top 100 yards rushing in both games.
So Arians was in no rush to name his starters.
''I liked the way they all practiced today,'' he said after Wednesday's workout. ''They all got reps and I'm not worried about chemistry or continuity or any of that stuff. We will continue to evaluate it as we go through the week.''
The 6-foot-5, 331-pound Iupati was Arizona's main offseason acquisition, signing a five-year, $40 million contract, with $22.5 million guaranteed. Considered one of the top run blockers in the league, his addition was designed to bolster a running game that ranked last in the league last season at 3.3 yards per attempt. But he tore his left meniscus in training camp and required surgery.
Iupati was limited in practice but said afterward he was able to do more than he did in last week's workouts.
He said it would be nice to face his former team but not because of any desire for vengeance.
''They treated me right,'' Iupati said. ''It would just feel good to play against your old teammates. They have a great organization, good team players. I was there for five years. I have nothing against them.''
On Wednesday, Massie spoke to reporters for the first time since his suspension, which stemmed from his arrest at the Cardinals facility the night before the Super Bowl on suspicion of driving under the influence.
''I put myself in that situation so I just had to deal with it,'' he said. ''You make your bed and you've got to lay in it. Everybody makes bad decisions. You've just got to learn from them and not do it again.''
Watford was drafted as a guard out of James Madison in the fourth round in 2013. He had not started before this year.
Arians said Massie ''did well in one-on-ones and was very sharp mentally because he was allowed to go to meetings this whole time.''
''He is a longer guy, a little bit better pass protector.'' Arians said. ''Earl is a little bit ahead of him in the running game.''
Massie started all 16 games at right tackle last season.
''It's been awhile since I've been out there, but I'll just shake the rust off and get back to work,'' he said. ''I'll be fine. It's not my first time in this offense. It's not my first time running with the first-team group. I'll be all right.''
If he does choose Massie, Arians said he won't hesitate to make a change again if one is warranted.
''It's a very short leash,'' Arians said, ''because Earl Watford has played well enough for it to be a short leash.''
Notes: Running back Kerwynn Williams was signed back to the practice squad. He was on the practice squad last week and was elevated to the active roster last week, then released on Tuesday. .... Two Cardinals earned NFC player of the week honors - Larry Fitzgerald on offense after catching eight passes for 112 yards against Chicago and rookie David Johnson for special teams after returning the opening kickoff 108 yards for a score. ... OLB LaMarr Woodley (shoulder) did not practice but Arians said he expected him back on Thursday.
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