For the most part, the Arizona Cardinals offensive line was pretty much solidified entering the offseason.
With Rodney Hudson, Kelvin Beachum, Justin Pugh and D.J. Humphries all returning to trenches for Arizona, the biggest question mark for the line came down to the starting right guard spot.
Enter Will Hernandez, whom the Cardinals hope can remedy the inconsistencies at right guard that plagued the team last year.
While the pads have yet to come on, Hernandez is already loving his new digs. Reuniting with former college coach Sean Kugler also has its perks.
“I’m here to add value to this team. I’m here to be a better player, be what the team needs me to be,” Hernandez told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Wednesday. “Whatever that is, however that is, that’s why I’m here. I picked the Arizona Cardinals because 1) it’s closer to home, 2) I have coach Kugler here. I’m very familiar with what he likes, what he needs, how he teaches things.
“And also just the atmosphere and watching the team the last few years, especially last year. You had a great team with a bunch of great guys that I’ve known over the years. All those things kind of influenced me to showing up.”
On top of the environment, familiarity and desire to be in the heat, Hernandez also values the team’s unfinished-business mentality following last season’s second-half-of-the-season debacle.
Hernandez knows the feeling after registering a down 2021 with the New York Giants that saw him put up a 55.9 Pro Football Focus grade, the worst of his career. He allowed a career high seven sacks and was flagged eight times at right guard.
Heading into the season, Hernandez is taking the good with the bad.
“Every year you start over, no matter what happened last year,” Hernandez said. “I had one of the worst seasons personally, team-wise, all that last year. But the way I see it, every year it’s a brand new page, a brand new start. You can make anything that you want to make happen happen no matter what happened the year before that. … I’m all-in to help make that happen.”
“I learned so much (from last year), I’ve experienced things that I’ve never experienced in my career, feelings, just things that teach you a lot,” he added. “Once you get out of it and you go back and look at everything that happened no matter how bad it was, it teaches you a lot. I’m just going to go ahead and take that and use it for this year.”
How the roster is currently constructed, the starting right guard spot appears to be Hernandez’s to lose.
That doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion, however, with Justin Murray and initial 2021 starter Josh Jones still on the roster.
And despite obviously wanting the starting role, Hernandez is focused on being the best version of himself with his new squad.
“First thing’s first, you have to be a technician, Hernandez said. “Going back to New York and stuff, there was a lot of changes in techniques and a lot of inconsistencies. So the first thing I want to do is adapt myself to what Kugler’s coaching me to do, what the team wants me to do and what these guys are already doing. Adapt myself to that, become very polished in the technique that I’m going to use and stay consistent with it.
“Other than that you can never have too much conditioning, you can never have too much study time and preparing and I think those are the areas I want to focus on.”