Cardinals notebook: Sharing is caring when it comes to OLB room
GLENDALE — Who lines up at pass rusher opposite Markus Golden has been one of the biggest questions this offseason.
With Chandler Jones now a Las Vegas Raider, it’s on defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to scheme the defense accordingly. And it’s on the group of OLB candidates to separate themselves from their competition.
As it stands Friday, Dennis Gardeck, Devon Kennard and 2022 third-rounders Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas are all jostling for the vacant spot.
But while every player’s personal prerogative is to be a starter in this league, a veteran like Gardeck — who knows a thing or two about filling in for Jones — is taking a we-not-me perspective.
“I don’t think (not helping teammates fighting for the same job) is the right approach at all,” Gardeck said Friday. “I think it’s about the game of football and you want the best product being out on the field and taking your ego aside from things.
“I feel like when you start to get into the ‘I’m not going to give this information,’ it always comes back to you. Being able to share whatever you can is huge.”
The information doesn’t just go from vet to rookie, either.
As Sanders and Thomas get further and further integrated into the Cardinals’ pass-rushing department, Gardeck has not only seen how the duo could impact the starting defense, he’s also finding ways to improve his own game from the third-rounders.
“Myjai is a freak athlete that’s so explosive off the ball and can get to that point of attack so quickly and cover,” Gardeck said. “He can do a lot of amazing things. That’s someone that’s kind of in the same skillset as me. … I think there are things me and him can work on. He’s helped me a bunch, too. He’s got some pretty special moves. I’m trying to pick up a couple of them.”
“And then Cam … is just a big dude who’s going to be able to overpower people on the edge. He’s coming along. Smart dude. I’m excited to see them.”
Kyler Murray eager to return from COVID-19 stint
The Cardinals have had to navigate this week of training camp without starting quarterback Kyler Murray.
Murray, who had already been dealing with a wrist issue, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday and has since been in isolation away from the team.
The soonest the QB can return to action is Saturday, the same day of the team’s annual Red & White practice.
“I believe he tested yesterday and tomorrow’s Day 5 so I’m hoping he’ll be back tomorrow,” Kingsbury said Friday.
“He wants to be back, there’s no doubt,” the head coach added. “You can tell he’s about over it, but he’s been good. He feels better, there’s no doubt so that’s good. He just wants to get back out there. I think he’s getting a little stir crazy.”
Despite missing multiple days of on-the-field action with his teammates, Murray has continued to Zoom into the quarterback meetings while he’s on the shelf.
Friday’s for the young guns
On Day 5 of a six-day work week, the Cardinals opted to give a plethora of veterans — and rookie tight end Trey McBride — rest days, allowing younger players and those near the back end of the depth chart more opportunities to make their presence known.
Quarterback Colt McCoy was among those taking it easy on Friday, leaving backups Trace McSorley and Jarrett Guarantano to man the offense throughout practice.
And with Antoine Wesley injured and A.J. Green and Rondale Moore resting, wide receivers Greg Dortch, Andy Isabella and new addition Marcell Ateman saw their numbers called more.
Isabella arguably had his best day of training camp, reeling in a pair of touchdowns during 11-on-11 work, one each from McSorley and Guarantano.
In the backfield, Eno Benjamin led the way for the RBs room with James Conner and Darrel Williams taking off days, followed by Jonathan Ward, Keaontay Ingram and Ronnie Rivers.
The Ronnie Rivers Show
It’s a tradition to have the team’s punt returners see how many balls they can corral at a time during return drills.
When the dust settled on Friday, it was Rivers who stood victorious with a total of six footballs in his grasp at one time.
It was a close competition, with wideouts Greg Dortch and Victor Bolden Jr. nearly tying their teammate with five.
#AZCardinals WR Greg Dortch gave it a valiant effort but ultimately couldn’t beat Ronnie Rivers’ score of 6 during return drills. pic.twitter.com/Jsb0yOhc0h
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) August 5, 2022
Now the real question is: Can anyone match Patrick Peterson’s number of seven?
.@P2 got 7 back in 2019. pic.twitter.com/NgnIfQa07D
— Cameron Cox (@CamCox12) August 5, 2022
– Kingsbury is not concerned about any long-term issues with tight end Zach Ertz’s calf issue.