Kamu Grugier-Hill’s familiarity with Arizona made Cardinals the right fit
TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals didn’t wheel and deal this past NFL trade deadline, much to the chagrin of fans.
They still ended up with a new face on the roster, though, in inside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill when the mountain of trade dust settled on Wednesday.
While they were unable to make a deal with the Houston Texans — something defensive coordinator Vance Joseph alluded to on Thursday — GM Steve Keim was still able to snag Grugier-Hill through free agency following his release from the team just over a week ago.
No longer on a Texans team out of sorts and staring at a 1-6-1 record, the linebacker with 20 starts over the past season and a half now turns his attention to picking up Joseph’s system in a hurry.
Luckily for KGH, one thing he won’t have to do is learn the area, having spent a good amount of time in Arizona and with physical therapist consultant Brett Fischer after undergoing surgery and rehab in the area back in 2019.
“I just love Arizona, honestly,” Grugier-Hill said Friday. “I love being here, I spend every offseason here. I’m very familiar with it and on top of that, I got a lot of close friends here in (Zach Ertz) and (Dennis Gardeck).
“Ever since I’ve been out here, I’ve been close with Fisch. Any time anything goes wrong, I call Fisch no matter where I am. To have him here — I always came back in the offseason and did some work with him, train with him a little bit.”
Grugier-Hill lands with the Cardinals after making a name for himself in Houston for over a season and a half.
In 2021, the linebacker loaded up the stat sheet behind a team-leading 108 tackles, 13 of which were for losses, to go along with three sacks, an interception, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and five QB hits.
Of his best performances, the seven-year veteran went nuclear in Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts last year, posting a franchise record 20 tackles and playing 86% of the available defensive snaps.
Grugier-Hill has already had a similar showing this season, racking up 18 tackles in a Week 1 tie against — you guessed it — the Colts.
But as his time with Houston rolled on, Grugier-Hill wasn’t seeing the field as consistently as he had prior. In what would end up being his final game in a Texans uniform, the linebacker recorded just 18 defensive snaps (32%) as the team opted to give rookie Christian Harris more playing time.
Only twice last season did he see fewer than 72% of available defensive snaps in a given game. In his final six matchups with Houston, Grugier-Hill saw more than 72% of snaps just once (Week 1).
The decrease in playing time ultimately led to the two sides going their separate ways, with Grugier-Hill reportedly asking for his release and the Texans granting the request.
The plan now for Grugier-Hill is getting him fully engulfed in all things Cardinals sooner rather than later.
That starts with special teams work, diving into the playbook and a lot of watching/shadowing his new teammates.
“Just seeing Vance’s defense, I want to be a part of that,” Grugier-Hill said. “They’re flying around every week, playing fast, and I think that’s what I try and do. I think I could help out there.
“My playstyle is a little similar to what I feel like they’re looking for,” he added. “Just try to play fast in the pass game, fly around in the run game and just fly around from sideline to sideline, honestly.”
While he may not see the field as much as he or others would hope this weekend after arriving to the training facility Thursday afternoon, the target is to get him closer to full speed by the time the Cardinals travel to the Los Angeles to face the Rams.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a shot at some kind of action when the Cardinals take on the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9.
“Right now, he’s covering kicks,” Joseph said. “He’s going to be a backup for us, but he’s played a bunch of football, especially on third downs.
“We’ll see moving forward how he fits, but he’s definitely engaged, intelligent. He’s played good ball in the past and he wanted to be here. That’s important also. He’s a good fit for us.”