Cardinals center Mason Cole started every game as a rookie after A.Q. Shipley tore his ACL in training camp. But Shipley returned last season, leaving Cole to play only 211 offensive snaps — most coming in two starts — and 73 on special teams.
The Cardinals did not re-sign Shipley, leaving Cole to regain the starting job.
“After a year of being in the background, being a backup, I’m just really looking forward to being back out there all the time,” Cole said in a Monday video call, via Kyle Odegard of the team website. “I’m obviously hoping to have a good year, and hopefully one of these years make the Pro Bowl.”
Until last season, Cole had never served as a backup. He started every game in his four years at East Lake High School in Florida and did the same at Michigan.
Cole played all 942 offensive snaps in 2018 after the Cardinals made him a third-round choice.
“It’s a year that I’d never really had, so I think in a weird way, having that year off actually really helped me,” Cole said of 2019. “It helped me learn from the older guys and it helped me see the room from a different perspective. . . . This past year, I probably made my biggest jump technique-wise and performance-wise that I’ve probably made in my whole career.”
Lamont Gaillard, a sixth-round choice in 2019, is expected to backup Cole.