When the Arizona Cardinals lost their first-round (and top 10 overall) pick in Jonathan Cooper before the regular season even began, there were whispers of an impending disaster on their offensive line for 2013. However, they’ve managed to replace him in an effective way thus far, and it appears that they’ve found a hidden gem in the process.
Right guard Paul Fanaika was inserted into the 1st-team lineup after Cooper’s depature and the movement of Daryn Colledge from the right side to the left side, and he hasn’t missed a beat. He was signed to a 1-year minimum contract in the pre-season after spending time in Seattle and Washington in previous seasons, but as a result of his good work, the team announced a contract extension for the 27-year-old after just one game.
Fanaika comes with little fanfare, but his play could be critical to the offensive fate of Arizona this season. They are in good (read: better) shape at quarterback with Carson Palmer in the mix, but the running game lacks firepower from the tailback position, and they’ll need significant holes to work with. Fanaika will likely never fill the considerable shoes of Cooper, who the team thought would be a dominant player from day one, but if he is adequate, that will be a significant win for the Cardinals.