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Ted Larsen up next at left guard

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Ted Larsen was shopping for a new team this past offseason, he looked at how deep his potential suitors were at guard and center.

Larsen wanted to go somewhere where he had a chance to compete for a starting job. When he arrived in Arizona in March, center was locked down by Lyle Sendlein and Jonathan Cooper was the presumed starting left guard. That left right guard as the only open competition for Larsen to jump into.

How things have changed for the Arizona Cardinals a little more than three weeks into training camp.

Paul Fanaika's job at right guard is safe. Larsen has been playing center with the first team while Sendlein nurses a calf injury. And Cooper has spent his camp either struggling to knock the rust off from a year away from football or in the training room, and it may cost him his job.

"When Lyle comes back there's a real good chance [Larsen will] be our starting left guard," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Monday.

"We loved him at left guard when we got him, where he played mostly last year. But to see him play center so well was really pleasing to know that he added the depth, the quality depth."

Arians was either sending another message to Cooper, who "can't do anything" from the trainer's table while waiting for turf toe to heal, or Larsen is the future at left guard.

In four years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 16 of Larsen's 31 starts came at left guard. He also started 11 games at center and four at right guard. And he started both preseason games with the Cardinals at center.

That versatility has kept Larsen employed and paid since he entered the league in 2010.

If Sendlein returns Wednesday as expected, Larsen will practice at left guard for two days before Sunday night's game against Cincinnati.

"It's part of the deal," he said. "If you're going to be a backup, if you're going to be that sixth guy you got to be able to play all three. It's just something I've been forced to do in my time in the NFL so it's something I'm ready to do."

Larsen downplayed the notion that his experience at center during camp will help him at left guard. But it will. Directing the offense has taught him its intricacies, which Larsen said he picked up quickly because most offenses are similar. And since he and Sendlein use the same presnap calls, Larsen will know where to go while he transitions to playing alongside Sendlein instead of replacing him.

When Larsen started free agency back in March this is where he wanted to be. It only took five months to get there.

"Just means I got to be ready to go," Larsen said. "That's what training camp's for. Hopefully, I'll get some reps of that this week and be able to do it.

"[I'm] ready to go wherever they decide to put me."