New Cardinals offensive lineman Justin Pugh says back is 'good, great'

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Justin Pugh walked into the media room at the Arizona Cardinals' facility Saturday in a dark suit, white shirt and red tie with white polka dots -- and no socks.

The native East Coaster was ready for the Arizona weather.

And he's ready to play again.

Pugh, who signed a five-year contract with Cardinals on Saturday, said a muscle injury in his back, which caused the offensive lineman to miss eight games with the Giants in 2017 and end the year on injured reserve, is "good, great."

"I went to Dr. Robert Watkins right before all this stuff (in free agency) started to make sure everything was good," Pugh said. "I'm on this program he has -- this core program. I'm doing back stuff every single day. I'm going to continue to do that. Obviously, it's something you have to stay on top of and, as a veteran, how to take care of your body is something that I've learned throughout the years and just keep staying on top of it and keep going."

Pugh said nothing structurally was wrong with his back. Instead "it was a muscle thing," he said. He was able to avoid surgery last season, instead opting for rest to help rehabilitate it.

Pugh believes he tried to return from his injury too early last season when he tried to play against the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 12.

"We were struggling," Pugh said. "Our offensive line was struggling. So, to try to get me back out there, I wanted to be out there for the guys. Offensive line is one of those units where it's five guys coming together. It's not just one position, and you never want to see your guys struggling if you think you can make a difference.

"And I probably came back a little too soon, trying to get back out there for those guys, and at the end of the day, it was the right move at the end of the year to probably put me on the IR."