The center position is perhaps the most underrated in the game of football, especially for a player who touches the ball before anybody else on every single play. From anchoring and organizing the offensive line to making adjustments and calling out different points for the entire team to adjust to, it's vital to have a trustworthy center at the helm of every snap.
There aren't many more reliable centers than Rodney Hudson, and despite only one start with the Arizona Cardinals under his belt, his presence is already paying dividends for the offense.
On receiver DeAndre Hopkins' second touchdown grab of the day, it was Hudson who got the wheels churning before the play even began. Hudson noticed the Titans were in cover zero, which is man coverage across the board with no deep secondary help.
Earlier in the week, quarterback Kyler Murray said Hudson turned to Murray and pointed out the coverage, which gave Murray and the rest of the offense the advantage.
Hudson says he simply trusted his film study.
"It was something with the D-line that I kind of caught on tape, actually in the preseason, believe it or not. I seen it and I just trusted that it will happen" said Hudson on Friday.
That play was just one of many instances where Hudson has led the way for the rest of the Cardinals offense. When Hudson was acquired in the offseason from the Raiders, the Cardinals knew what type of player they were getting on the field.
However, it's his habits off the field that have helped mold Hudson into the key piece of Arizona's offensive line.
"When I was younger, my first O-line coach, he's retired now (Bill Muir) used to drill that on me. I've had a lot of really good coaching, I hate to leave anybody out along the way. But I just learned over time the importance of being prepared from a film standpoint," said Hudson.
"To me, one of the most important parts of the game is watching film. Because you practice, you run your plays and you know what you do well, but learning what the other team does, what they do well and stuff is maybe more important as far as being prepared for the game. Now obviously, you work on your stuff every day, which is very important. I wouldn't say it's tedious (watching film). It's just part of the whole thing."
With a player as talented as Hudson, everybody around the Cardinals benefits from Hudson's play and knowledge. For starting right guard Josh Jones, who moved from tackle to guard in the offseason, Hudson wasn't willing to take any credit for his improvement.
"I won't take any credit. Josh has worked really hard," said Hudson.
"He's smart. He's young, he's athletic. So I wouldn't take any credit for the job he's done. I always see him in there (the facility) whether it's stretching, (using) cold tub, he's actually taking care of his body as a young player really well. All the credit goes to him. And like I said, when I'm in there, I'm just trying to do my job to make sure that it relieves anything extra from anybody else. I won't take any credit from him. He's done a really good job."
Credited or not, it's obvious Hudson's mere presence, thanks to his overall intelligence and intense film study, has done wonders for Arizona's offense. Whether it's cover zero in Week 1 or handling exotic schemes down the stretch of the season, Hudson looks to pave the way for those behind and alongside him.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury surely appreciates what Hudson means to the team's offense.
"He's not like an outspoken guy until you get him on the football field and in those position meetings, the way he's directing traffic, the questions he's asking, I mean he's all business all the time," Kingsbury said. "It's been impressive. It's been great for all of us on the offensive side of the ball to hear his thoughts, his perspective; we've changed things because he has better ways of doing it at times. He's been a real blessing."
Noting the importance of a sometimes unrecognized position and how important that is to the team, Kingsbury added, "Yeah, no question. I think particularly with us. We have a young quarterback that we're trying to groom and continue to get him to play at a high level and to have a guy like that who can run things and get us in the right direction and to help him see different things, it's invaluable."