Cardinals LB Devon Kennard eager to face former team Sunday
It doesn’t bode well for Detroit that linebacker Devon Kennard — who recorded three sacks in Week 1 last season — walked in the offseason. It also doesn’t help the Lions that Kennard is back with his hometown team and ready to face his former teammates in Week 3.
“They’re an explosive offense. They’ve got weapons all over the field,” Kennard said about the Lions. “Definitely can’t wait to get out there and be on the other side of things now.”
Kennard led the Lions’ defense with seven sacks in the 2019 season while also racking up 58 tackles and 15 QB hits.
So when he didn’t return to Detroit, Cardinals’ top brass saw an opportunity and jumped on it.
“He’s always been a good football player, but when he came available, he was obviously a guy that we wanted to make a part of our defense because he was a natural SAM (line)backer,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said.
“That position is so hard to find in this league. Guys who can have the strength to play in the run game and also be great pass rushers versus big tackles,” Joseph added. “To acquire an experienced SAM backer when we didn’t have one on our roster was huge for this football team.”
Through two weeks with the Cardinals, Kennard has recorded one sack, three tackles and two QB hits as he learns the ins and outs of Joseph’s defensive scheme.
“I feel like this year, Vance Joseph has gotten better at learning to work with what he has and learning his players ultimately,” the linebacker said. “The same thing works hand in hand here. Players are learning him as well, we starting to get a niche of what he likes to call and what he likes to do in certain situations.”
Kennard harbors no ill will towards his former team’s choice to not bring him back, acknowledging that it’s part of business in the league.
As the Cardinals prepare for Sunday’s matchup, Kennard has insight for what they’ll be seeing on the field against a Detroit team hungry for its first win of the season.
“Coach (Matt) Patricia, I have a lot of respect for him and I know he’s going to have those guys ready and they’re going to try to restart their season on Sunday against us,” he said. “In this league, anybody can beat anybody on any given Sunday. We’re expecting their best shot and we’re preparing to give them ours.”