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Earl Watford emerging as Cardinals' 'Swiss Army knife'

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Three of the Arizona Cardinals' five offensive line spots are set, nearly in stone, as Week 2 of organized team activities (OTAs) kicked off Tuesday.

Jared Veldheer will start at left tackle, Mike Iupati will start at left guard, and Evan Mathis will start at right guard.

After Tuesday’s practice, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin declared right tackle and center an open competition despite D.J. Humphries and A.Q. Shipley holding those positions, respectively, as the Cardinals entered Week 2 of OTAs.

“Let’s be honest with ourselves, from a money situation, certain people don’t get moved,” Goodwin said. “Right now, it’s still an open competition. D.J.’s in an open competition, A.Q.’s in an open competition. We’re pretty set unless something happens between now and fall practice. [You have] Jared, you got Mike and you got Evan, who’s having a great spring so far.”

Of the seven offensive linemen Goodman will need on game day, he has an idea who five of them will be.

The rest of OTAs, minicamp and training camp will determine the last two active offensive linemen.

“The competition is wide open so we’ll see what happens,” Goodwin said. “Obviously, right now, everything is good. It looks beautiful. It’s all about the shoulder pads. It’s all about training camp. So, right now, everybody looks good in shorts. Even I look skinny right now.”

Goodwin mentioned a contingent of young offensive linemen who could compete for one or both of those final two spots in guard Antoine McClain, center Taylor Boggs and rookie center Evan Boehm.

But there’s a wild card who could steal one of those spots.

Earl Watford has lined up at all three offensive line positions during OTAs, including center, and that versatility has given him the inside track to being part of Goodwin’s rotation on the line.

“Earl’s like my Swiss Army knife,” Goodwin said.

“He’s done well at all those positions. Right now, Earl’s probably got a leg up just because he can do everything. He’s played in the game at right tackle. He’s played in the game at guard. He’s never played in the game at left tackle but he’s done really well at center.”

And that’s “shocked” Goodwin. With the center competition having been narrowed to Shipley and Boehm for the last month, Watford could crash the party.

“He’s done well as far as ID’ing the front and making the calls and getting the ball up to [quarterback] Carson [Palmer]. He’s matured a whole bunch, too.

“The more you can do in this league the better chance you got of sticking on a roster.”