In his two-plus months as an Arizona Cardinals rookie offensive lineman, Cole Toner understands why players love to play for coach Bruce Arians.
“He’s funny and outgoing with the media, but he’s all business in the meetings,” Toner said. “He holds everybody accountable. He’s tough on guys at times and he expects a lot, but he’s a cool guy to be around. He really supports guys.
“When you walk by him in the facility, he’ll say hi to you and make a funny comment. He’s a great coach and great guy.”
Toner, a fifth-round pick from Harvard by the Cardinals in April, takes his next major step to securing a spot on the team when he reports to training camp July 24. The former Roncalli High School lineman, who grew up in Greenwood, spent four weeks of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) with weekends off. There was one week of minicamp and two weeks of weightlifting and development meetings for rookie.
“I didn’t know what to expect going in. It was tough,” Toner said. “The rookies had a longer schedule, so we were there from 6 to 6 every day during OTAs. The offense was tough to learn. I got most of it down by the time we left. But they’ll put more stuff in during training camp I’m sure.”
The 6-5, 300-pound Toner, who was an offensive tackle at Harvard, has primarily played at the guard spot during the workouts.
“Guard is a bit easier to learn because you are not playing in space as much as tackle,” Toner said. “I’m getting used to that now. Playing a new position is a little different.”
Toner said the defensive line features some veteran players and first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche, a tackle from the University of Mississippi.
“There’s a lot of depth there,” Toner said of the defensive line. “Most of them I played against are going to make the team, so it was good practice. I know I have to get stronger. I have a ways to go, but I’ll get there.”
The Cardinals also took guard Evan Boehm from Missouri in the fourth round. In addition, Arizona signed guard Evan Mathis, 34, as a free agent to a one-year contract.
“It’s a pretty veteran group team,” Toner said. “We have younger guy, D.J. Humphries, who was our first-round pick (in 2015), who didn’t play last year but is now playing at right tackle. But it’s really a pretty, veteran-laden team.”
Toner has been training for the past three weeks at St. Vincent Sports Performance on the northwest side of Indianapolis.
“I’ve been trying to eat well, stay healthy and rest my body up because camp is going to be a long, tough process,” Toner said.
Toner has been working out with two Indianapolis Colts players, offensive lineman Joe Reitz and tight end Jack Doyle. Toner said he has been working with Reitz on some offensive line drills.
“It’s nice to see what he’s doing to prepare and kind of mirror what he’s doing,” Toner said.
Toner’s goal for this season is simple.
“I just want to do whatever I can do to be a versatile player, play hard, well and tough,” Toner said. “Hopefully, I’ll make some heads turns and just do well in the preseason games as well. I’m in a great spot, and it’s up to me now to perform.”
Weight: 300 pounds
Born: March 13, 1994
Of note: Drafted by Arizona in fifth round, 170th overall. Started 3 1/2 seasons at right tackle at Harvard. First-team All-Ivy League selection 2014 and 2015. Graduated from Harvard in May, with major in government and minor in economics. Was Named to 2011 Indiana Football Coaches Association Class 4A Senior All-State offensive lineman at Roncalli High School. Named to 2011 IFCA Academic All-State team. Earned four letters in football and basketball with the Rebels. His father, Dave, retired as Roncalli’s athletic director in June.
A Phoenix fit: Phoenix is a place where Toner has spent a lot of time through the years. “I couldn’t have found a more convenient place besides Indy,” Toner said. “I have two aunts out there and a bunch of cousins. I’ve seen them a lot. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Is politics in your future?: “Possibly, I don’t know yet. NFL first.”