Cardinals rookies Myjai Sanders, Cameron Thomas make most of Week 6 snaps

Oct 18, 2022, 7:31 AM

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals defense saw a number of young players step up and produce in the team’s Week 6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Among those who made waves against Geno Smith and the Seattle offense were rookie pass rushers Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas.

After sitting out the first four contests as a healthy scratch, Sanders posted eight snaps (12% of available defensive reps) for a consecutive game. In a limited showing, the rookie stood out, recording his first career sack to go along with a tackle for loss and QB hit.

Joining in on the fun was Thomas, who also picked up the first sack of his career across nine snaps (13%). He also registered two tackles, one of which was for a loss, and a QB hit.

Despite Thomas not seeing the field as much, the rookie has played in every game this season. After combining for just eight defensive snaps over the first three games, Thomas is seeing an uptick in play of late. He’s seen no more than nine reps over the past three weeks.

That increased playing time should continue for both Thomas and Sanders, especially with the Cardinals releasing veteran LB Devon Kennard in part to give their youth more playing time.

A look at some of the other snap counts that stood out in the Cardinals’ Week 6 loss to the Seahawks:

ILB Zaven Collins: 68 defensive snaps (100%)

Collins has now played 100% of the defensive snaps in four of the team’s six games.

It’s a testament to how much he’s grown at MIKE backer and the trust defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has in Collins.

The linebacker continues to stack games, too.

In the Week 6 loss, Collins paced the team with nine tackles and two sacks — the first of his career — while also knocking down a pass.

WR Greg Dortch: Four offensive snaps (6%), 12 special teams snaps (46%)

Dortch will continue to have a space here with the lack of usage he is getting since the return of Rondale Moore.

After sliding in as the team’s No. 2 receiving option behind Hollywood Brown for the first three weeks of the season, Dortch has been primarily used on special teams.

In Arizona’s Week 6 loss to the Seahawks, Dortch did not register a target, but fielded three punts and had three kick returns.

And with a WR room influx with DeAndre Hopkins returning from suspension, Robbie Anderson joining the team via trade and losing Brown to a foot injury, it’s unclear what Dortch’s role will be in the offense moving forward.

Dortch’s hourglass tweet after hardly playing in the game only added intrigue to his situation.

OLB Markus Golden: 55 defensive snaps (81%)

For the first time all season, Golden saw at least 80% of defensive snaps.

The added reps allowed more time for Golden to hunt, and he ended up with his first sack of 2022 and eight tackles, two of which were for losses.

RB Eno Benjamin: 62 offensive snaps (87%)

Benjamin was the team’s No. 1 option out of the RB room on Sunday with starter James Conner sidelined due to a ribs injury.

Recording a career-high in snaps, Benjamin nearly doubled his previous best 37 (54%) from last week.

Unfortunately for Benjamin, there was a lot left to be desired when the dust settled up north.

The running back paced the team in carries with 15 but only had 37 yards to show for them. He also caught three passes for 28 yards.

Benjamin could be in for another heavy dosage of snaps in Week 7, with Conner day to day and Darrel Williams expected to miss the contest with a knee issue.

DT Rashard Lawrence: 27 defensive snaps (40%)

For the first time since Week 3, the nose tackle was back on the field with his teammates after dealing with a hand injury the past few weeks.

Lawrence has been in the 40-49% range when it comes to defensive snaps in all four games played this season.

He had his best game of the season in Seattle, registering five tackles, one of which was for a loss.

OLB Victor Dimukeje: 30 defensive snaps (44%)

The youth movement was alive and well on Sunday for the Cardinals, with Dimukeje posting a career-high in snaps against Seattle.

It marked the first time since Week 2 that Dimukeje saw at least 31% of available snaps.

The preseason standout had his best game of 2022, recording three tackles.

He could be called upon again this week with Dennis Gardeck dealing with an ankle injury. Gardeck was listed as a nonparticipant in the team’s estimation of practice on Monday.

RB Keaontay Ingram: Nine offensive snaps (13%)

A rookie sixth-round pick this past draft, Ingram got his first taste of live NFL action on Sunday after being a healthy inactive for the first five games of the season.

It was tough sledding for the rookie, who recorded three carries for seven yards as the team’s No. 2 RB behind Benjamin.

With Williams and Conner still dealing with their respective injuries, Ingram could be in line for more snaps on Thursday night.

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