Cardinals notebook: Victor Dimukeje’s growth not lost on Dennis Gardeck
TEMPE — The evolution of Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Victor Dimukeje has been among the main talking points this offseason.
Highlighted by his two-sack effort against the Cincinnati Bengals in the preseason opener, the linebacker continues to trend upward.
Entering OTAs and minicamps as mainly a special teamer and fighting for a roster spot in a crowded OLB room, it didn’t take long for those on the field to see just how much Dimukeje had grown following his rookie season.
“He’s a guy that I kind of noticed early on, like, ‘This guy’s going to be a dude,'” OLB Dennis Gardeck said Wednesday. “He took his offseason incredibly serious. He did some boxing with me but that was after all the work he already put in.
“He’s got a cool story. I’m excited to watch him and again, be able to cash out all that hard work he’s put in. Really proud to be in the linebacker room with him.”
It helped that there were plenty of reps in front of Dimukeje, a sixth-round pick from last year’s draft.
While Gardeck is sure to figure into the rotation, returning pass-rusher Markus Golden has missed most of camp due to a toe injury. The Cardinals didn’t fill the other outside linebacker spot after Pro Bowler Chandler Jones’ free-agent departure and surprisingly released veteran Devon Kennard this week.
Third-round rookies Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas, like Dimukeje, have taken advantage of the competition for rotation snaps.
The duo had their moments over training camp and the preseason, with Thomas wrapping up exhibition play with a pair of sacks in the team’s loss to the Tennessee Titans.
“Excited for their growth,” Gardeck added. “Opportunities early on are going to make them better players. It’ll be fun to watch them grow, be able to help them, coach them up, love on them through the hard times.
“It’s a football season. There will be ups and downs. Just to be able to ride it out with them is going to be fun.”
LS Aaron Brewer expected to rejoin Cardinals
Long snapper Aaron Brewer was a surprise cut Tuesday as Arizona trimmed its roster to 53 players. As of Wednesday afternoon, the team does not have a long snapper on the roster.
There’s a method to the madness, with Kingsbury calling the move procedural.
“I expect him to be back,” the head coach added Wednesday.
With a few candidates for the short-term injured reserve, Brewer will likely land back on the roster following those roster moves.
Cardinals monitoring Marquis Hayes’ injury
Rookie offensive lineman Marquis Hayes was placed on the injured reserve with a knee issue on Tuesday, effectively ending his season.
It’s a tough way to start out an NFL career for Hayes, whose old-school mentality in the trenches earned the respect of his fellow offensive linemen this offseason.
“We’re still monitoring it to see where that goes,” Kingsbury said Wednesday. “It turned out to be something that was lingering and so the next couple of weeks we’ll see how it plays out.”
Hayes vows to come back even stronger.
“God’s plan. I’ll be back healthy, hungrier and better next year, believe that!” Hayes posted Wednesday on Twitter.
— Marquis Hayes Jr. (@bigmo__54) August 31, 2022
Hit the strobe?
Gardeck is well known for hitting the strobe after sacking the quarterback.
After not playing a snap on defense in his first two NFL seasons, @DGardeck has racked up 5.0 sacks, 8 QB hits, 5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery this season.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) December 15, 2020
But after 12 games played and no sacks on the stat sheet this past season, could there be a change coming in the sack celebration department?
“I don’t know,” Gardeck said Wednesday. “It’s been so long since I got home. I might just black out when I get my first sack. It’s time, I’m ready for one.”
For now, we wait.