Camp K report: Cardinals assistant head coach Rodgers aiding Kingsbury

Jul 31, 2019, 9:19 PM | Updated: 11:14 pm
This is a 2018 photo of Jeff Rodgers of the Arizona Cardinals NFL football team. (AP Photo)...
This is a 2018 photo of Jeff Rodgers of the Arizona Cardinals NFL football team. (AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kliff Kingsbury entered his job with the Arizona Cardinals open to leaning on general manager Steve Keim during the process of hiring his coaching staff.

Keim already had a name in mind for one member of that staff, a coach with not only a specialty but the ability to help Kingsbury through the logistics of running an NFL team for the first time.

Jeff Rodgers, who has 15 years of NFL special teams coaching experience, not only retained his special teams coordinator job after serving under former head coach Steve Wilks but earned an extra title to his position: assistant head coach.

“I was in the office when they hired Kliff. Spoke with both him and Steve Keim, and it kind of was a growing process in terms of what the responsibilities would be and if there is anything additional I could help with,” Rodgers said Wednesday.

Rodgers hadn’t met Kingsbury before the Cardinals hired him, but his father, who used to work in Texas football recruiting, and other mutual acquaintances knew the former Texas Tech coach well.

Since joining Arizona’s staff, Rodgers, Kingsbury and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph have bounced every sort of planning off one another. Be it training camp scheduling, preparing for this Saturday’s public scrimmage or determining how to split practice and preseason reps for individual players, Rodgers has been an often-utilized tool for Kingsbury, the head coach has said.

“Kliff has asked me a bunch of things and he’s asked V.J. a bunch of things,” Rodgers added. “The unique thing about this staff that’s different than some staffs is — for instance when we went from Denver to Chicago with (head coach) John Fox, half the staff came over. This (staff with the Cardinals) isn’t a crew of guys who’ve been together a long time.

“As a positive, it’s when we get talking about all those things, everybody’s sharing their experience and whatever seems to fit what he wants to do seems to be where we go. That’s what I’ve tried to do: share my experiences.”

Kingsbury has worked exclusively with the quarterbacks during skill drills during camp and calls plays on offense, allowing his coordinators to run the show for their units. Still, Rodgers believes the job descriptions for Arizona’s staffers aren’t so different as it’s been at his other stops in San Francisco (2003-07), Carolina (2008-10), Denver (2011-14) and Chicago (2015-17).

Kingsbury just tends to give his staff members a lot of credit for the planning process.

“He’s been a head coach before. He’s in full control,” Joseph said. “But that’s his personality, he’s so humble. Everyone sees it.”


— Kyler Murray threw an interception on Thursday as the defense began throwing more at him. On the second play during team drills, a blitz rushed him into throwing a tipped ball that was picked off by middle linebacker Jordan Hicks. Murray also had his wins, once hitting backup running back Chase Edmonds, who beat Hicks for a deep route along the sideline while playing out of the slot.

— During 7-on-7 drills, rookie safety/nickel Jalen Thompson also picked off a pass going the other way.

— Second-year pro Mason Cole worked at center Wednesday with A.Q. Shipley on the sidelines for a day off.

— Third-round pick Zach Allen ran several snaps with the first team as the Cardinals shuffled expected starters Rodney Gunter and Corey Peters in and out of the lineup. Additionally, inside linebacker Zeke Turner took a few snaps alongside Hicks with the first team. Turner’s fellow special teamer, Dennis Gardeck, had received all of those previous reps with projected starter Haason Reddick out with a knee injury.

— The Cardinals have flashed more on both sides of the ball over the last two days. On defense, it was about adding more blitzes. On offense, tight ends blocked in front of running backs before transitioning into routes. Arizona also showed a jet sweep shovel-pass to slot receiver Andy Isabella on Wednesday.


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Camp K report: Cardinals assistant head coach Rodgers aiding Kingsbury