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Cardinals pass-rusher Dennis Gardeck to go on IR, ending his season

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck (45) reacts after sacking New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (5) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in East Rutherford. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Arizona Cardinals pass-rusher and special teams captain Dennis Gardeck’s season will end on the injured reserve due to a knee issue, head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Thursday.

Gardeck, who was carted off the field Sunday in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles, finishes his third year with a career-high seven sacks.

Kingsbury said the team took a few days this week to see if there was a chance of Gardeck returning. Now, they will determine how to replace the backup linebacker who is second on the team in sacks, trailing only Haason Reddick’s 11.

“He’s been a big part of our NASCAR package and our Jet package. I mean, he makes it go. He’s the quarterback,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said of Gardeck on Wednesday.

“He actually makes the calls with our pass-rush games. That part we’re going to miss and pass on to someone else … He refuses to lose. Most of his sacks, he’s been blocked, he’s been stoned, and he just won’t stop.”

It’s been a fast rise for the undrafted player out of West Virginia State.

The quiet leader was surprised to be named captain before the season, as Kingsbury has spoken about his long hours of work and penchant to go too hard against the Cardinals offense as a scout team player.

“I’m more of a ‘whoa’ guy than a ‘go’ guy,” Gardeck said in September. “I’d rather be told to ease off than to be a guy they’re constantly trying to get going … I’d rather him tell me ‘whoa’ than have him tell me we need more effort.”

Gardeck did not play a defensive snap until a Week 5 game against the New York Jets after Arizona lost Pro Bowl outside linebacker Chandler Jones to a season-ending biceps injury.

In his first game playing with the defensive unit, Gardeck recorded two sacks and managed two more dual-sack outings since, including last week’s Cardinals victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gardeck piled up the stats, which included 18 total quarterback pressures, with wild efficiency. He played 94 total snaps all year, 79 of which were pass-rush plays, according to Pro Football Focus.

“I think for a big offensive lineman blocking him consistently, it’s tough because his energy level and the speed he plays with and the power he can generate with that body in close proximities is very rare,” Joseph said.

“He plays very few snaps but he has very, very high production. We’re going to miss Dennis, for sure.”


— Kingsbury said center Mason Cole was missing practice due to the birth of his baby.

— Tight end Maxx Williams remains day-to-day with an ankle issue.

Phillips Law Group


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