Consistency key to winning Cards RT job

May, 30, 2014
May 30
11:00
AM ET
Bradley Sowell sees his inconsistency.

Bruce Arians doesn't want to see it.

That could be the difference between Sowell being named the starter at right tackle over his college teammate, Bobby Massie.

"Be consistent," Sowell said. "I show signs of being a really good tackle and there's signs of ‘Where'd that come from?' If I can ever hone in and be a consistent player and stop making some dumb mistakes technique wise, I think I'll be a really good tackle."

Massie
Sowell
The quicker Sowell and Massie can rid themselves of those mistakes, the easier Arians' job will become. Instead of scouring free agency and the waiver wire for a starting right tackle, he'll be able to pick a starter right from his locker room.

Through two weeks of organized team activities, the battle for the right tackle job has been "pretty good," Arians said, but he added it's "way too early to tell." Out of the six days of OTAs thus far, Arians said the plan was to give Sowell and Massie three days each with the starters so they'll both have the same amount of reps.

The media was only allowed in for one day of each OTA session.

The exposure to playing with the first team gave Massie an opportunity to show coaches that he spent the offseason working on his strength, flexibility and his ability to move to his left during the offseason. Arians wanted to see a few specific improvements from Massie this offseason.

"No mental errors, don't turn the blitzer loose that he's responsible for off the edge, making the proper calls," Arians said. "Just like I do with Bradley."

Massie also wanted to show the Cardinals that he's spent more time studying his playbook, an issue that's plagued him throughout his young career.

Arians doesn't know why Massie has struggled learning the offense.

"Ask him," Arians said. "It ain't that hard."

Massie admitted he's matured during the last season and a half, a process that started after he allowed 13 sacks in a six-game stretch before midseason of his rookie year in 2012. He came into the NFL with the same mindset that worked for him at the University of Mississippi.

But there was one problem: It didn't work in the NFL.

"You can't be big headed," Massie said. "I came from the (Southeastern Conference). I played real well there. I came in with the same mindset I went through college with and it ain't like that. I just had to learn how to become a professional.

"I was going to go out and do the same thing I did on Saturday on Sunday. It didn't work out like that, obviously. I had to work on my craft more and get in the playbook harder than I was doing."

After starting his rookie season, Massie sat behind veteran right tackle Eric Winston in 2013 and without Winston around, Massie found himself competing for the job again this offseason.

This time it was with a long-time friend.

"It's a friendly competition," Sowell said. "We know that we both got to do our best to win the job. We've been friends for a while. We don't hate each other. We know the coaches are going to make the decision.

"Were going to help each other out."

The more they work and the less they're on Arians' accountability sheets, the better for both Massie and Sowell. They'd rather keep the competition in-house and that's within their control. The two former Rebels just need to be consistent.

"Ain't nothing in this world is going to be given to you," Massie said, "So you got to fight for it."

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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