After making several cuts over the weekend, most NFL teams are now in the process of developing a practice squad — a very important facet of the roster. These guys are all players that, if needed, the team feels comfortable activating them for game action. Many look at them as merely bodies in practice, but it is much more intricate than that.
The Arizona Cardinals began that process this week and went after a particularly intriguing player. Center Philip Blake, a native of Etobicoke, Ontario, was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. In his rookie season, he was inactive for the first two games before spending the rest of the year on injured reserve due to a thumb injury.
While at Baylor, Blake excelled as he started a total of 38 games for the Bears. Before Baylor, Blake spent a year at Tyler Junior College in Texas and two years at Champlain Regional College in Quebec. Blake did not even play football until his senior year in high school, so to find himself as a three-year starter in the Big 12 is an impressive feat.
Blake is great at getting to the second level when run blocking. He can lock down his first assignment, easily moving on to the second level to help further rushing plays. At 6’2” and over 300 pounds, Blake is not the most athletic overall when having to deal with the quicker pass rushers but can definitely hold his own.
The Cardinals brought Blake onto the practice squad Monday after he was released from the Broncos, giving them a little more potential depth on their line which already features 10 players on the active roster. New head coach Bruce Arians seems to really preach competition on the offensive line especially because of last year’s inability to protect the quarterback. If Blake gets a shot down the road to play, he may wind up helping in that cause.