TEMPE — When Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Sean Harlow signed with the team back in January, he was told he would have a true opportunity to see the field.
Coach talk or not, that’s rang true in 2021.
With injuries popping up across the line, Harlow has stepped into a much larger role in the offense, especially over the past three games, making two starts and garnering at least 87% of the offensive snaps in the process.
It’s finally the opportunity the lineman has been looking for since entering the league as a fourth-round draft pick with the Atlanta Falcons in 2017.
“This year’s been great,” Harlow said Wednesday. “Honestly, I was probably done with football if it didn’t work out here. Been four years of battling, battling, battling and I never saw the field. It really shot my confidence, to be honest. [Offensive line coach Sean Kugler] and [head coach Kliff Kingsbury] really believed in me and let me roll and go play and have fun. It’s really rekindled my love for the game.
“I’m not thinking about going forward, just be where your feet are as they say, take it one day at a time. But this year’s been great. The last four years have been rough, especially mentally. It’s been a great experience, I’m happy, I’m loving football again and it’s fun to go play.”
Over the past seven games, Harlow has seen time at both guard spots, center and even a rep at long snapper.
Despite the musical chairs, Harlow has filled in rather seamlessly.
“He has been huge,” Kingsbury said Wednesday. “To be able to have a guy that can play guard and can play center at a high level has just been tremendous.
“Great energy, works hard, smart — obviously, to pick it up as quickly as he has — he’s really saved us in a couple of games this year.”
Harlow will be the last one to take credit, however, praising the work Kugler and the rest of the line put in on a daily basis.
It also helps to have left tackle D.J. Humphries and center Rodney Hudson beside you. As Harlow said Wednesday, “being between those two guys, it’s hard to look bad.”
Seeing live action has been a long time coming for Harlow. He’ll take any snap he can get as he continues to prove to himself and others that he can hang with the best of them at the NFL level.
“It was just believing in myself. I put in so much work,” Harlow said of what he leaned on as he worked to find the field over the past four seasons. “This is what I’ve been wanting to do forever. Started playing this game at seven because I loved the game, it was fun. It still is. … I didn’t want to go out because I decided to quit. It was because someone wouldn’t let me play anymore.”
– Harlow on his emergency long snapping duties:
“I’ve practiced it on the side. I’ve never done it really, but be ready when your called. … Was hoping it didn’t go over his head and it didn’t so it worked out.”