GLENDALE (AP) – Sunday after Sunday, D.J. Humphries watched his Arizona Cardinals teammates suit up without him.
He was the only healthy first-round draft pick in the NFL to sit out every game last season as inactive.
“He was too immature,” coach Bruce Arians said.
Humphries wouldn’t argue otherwise.
“To be honest, this type of team, what they demand for a player,” he said, “I wasn’t ready to give that to the team last year.”
He’d better be ready now. Humphries is penciled in as the starting right tackle on a team that expects to contend for the Super Bowl.
To say he’s looking forward to finally getting his chance is an understatement as big as he is.
“I’m almost jitterish, I’m so anxious,” he said.
Early on last year, Humphries earned the nickname “Knee Deep” from Arians because that’s how far his foot had to be up Humphries’ rear end to get his attention.
But slowly, steadily, he improved.
“The biggest thing was get stronger and learn that it wasn’t going to be easy,” Arians said Saturday before practice at training camp. “It had been easy his whole life. He was just plugged in as a starter wherever he’s been, and it wasn’t going to be that easy. He had to learn to work every single day, prepare every single day to become a pro. He was more than ready by Thanksgiving.”
Still, Humphries only watched as Bobby Massie held down the right tackle spot. But Massie was in the last year of his contract and the Cardinals weren’t willing to spend the money it would take to re-sign him. The job would go to Humphries. So far, the team hasn’t added a veteran tackle to push the 22-year-old or take over if things fall apart.
“People already explained the example to me,” Humphries said. “They go out and get an older guy, that means you’re not doing something right, or you’re not living up to what they thought you would be. To see that not happen, clearly I’m doing something right. Clearly they know I’m taking it seriously. Clearly they see me make the effort and strides to do what I’ve got to do.”