Camp K notes: Cardinals roster moves loom; DT Phillips aims to walk the talk
There was a brief team scrimmage and three-ish weeks of practice film to peruse.
After that, the Arizona Cardinals only have pre-pandemic film of more than 20 players who are on the cut line. Old clips probably carry little weight.
Saturday at 1 p.m. Arizona time marks the 53-man roster cut deadline for the NFL, and the lack of rookie mini-camp, organized team activities and preseason games certainly will hurt those who are borderline roster players.
“You feel bad for the young players more than anything for the lack of opportunities,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We’ve done the best job we can as far as giving them reps where you can be evaluated, but it’s not the same as being out there for the 31 other teams to watch your film and see what types of plays you make when the lights are on in preseason games.”
Arizona’s roster includes 74 players as of Wednesday afternoon, and it’s assumed that this shortened and limited offseason will lead the coaching staff more toward keeping players it has a relatively long history with.
Players like receiver Trent Sherfield, Dennis Gardeck and Zeke Turner have experience making the roster after going undrafted and impressing in camp.
“Specifically in my room, we got a couple undrafted guys,” Sherfield said. “I’ve been through that process and I know what those emotions feel like, especially during this time. I honestly hate this time. You build relationships with these guys for three to four weeks, some of these guys get cut and you don’t get to see them anymore.
“Definitely stressful, but I make sure to uplift them and just try to encourage them.”
Under these circumstances, players like Sherfield, a depth receiver with success as a special teams gunner, might be a favorite to retain roster spots because they’ve carved out strong special teams roles.
Gardeck, however, made his way this far because he avoids complacency. He knows others could be coming for his job because there are ways to impress coaches beyond performing in a game-like situation.
“Practice is one of them, meeting rooms,” Gardeck said. “(Special teams coordinator Jeff) Rodgers does a good job of making sure we have all the information prior to the meeting. It’s just like going to class: Read chapters one and two and we’re going to discuss them in class the next day. Being able to go to him with questions before the meeting starts … is huge. I think that helped me my rookie year.
“Everything’s a competition. It’s not just the field work stuff.”
Big walk, big talk
Word on the street is Jordan Phillips’ 9.5-sack season for the Buffalo Bills a year ago wasn’t a single blip on the radar.
In fact, the word that the 344-pounder is already one of the best defensive tackles in the game came from Phillips himself. He has repeatedly said he’s already arrived as an NFL standout.
His contract worth $30 million over three years wasn’t well received, however.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph believes Phillips can live up to it.
“I had Jordan as a young guy and I knew his potential,” said Joseph, who coached Phillips in 2016 with the Miami Dolphins. “I wasn’t surprised by that (9.5-sack season) because it was always in Jordan. I think Jordan’s matured a lot since our Miami days.”
“He’s serious about being one of the best D-linemen in football. He has obviously said that publicly and I’ve always told him to play to his words. You can say that but you haven’t done that yet. But he has the potential to be a dominant guy.”
For what it’s worth, Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks said Wednesday that Phillips’ size and athleticism has been on display, as he’s capable of chasing down screen passes as well as stuffing up the middle and applying pressure on quarterbacks.
— Larry Fitzgerald missed his third straight day of camp due to an undisclosed injury. Kenyan Drake and DeAndre Hopkins were again absent.
— Sherfield ran off a long list of Cardinals who have gotten into chess, and matches have been a common activity at camp, he said. Among the players are Drake, Kyler Murray, Larry Fitzgerald, Zach Allen and Dan Arnold. Word is that Murray is the best of them all.