Cardinals OLB Dennis Gardeck working to improve pass rush technique this offseason
Jun 4, 2023, 3:45 PM | Updated: 3:50 pm
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Arizona Cardinals edge rusher Dennis Gardeck earned defensive snaps in 2020, with then-head coach Kliff Kingsbury saying he was unblockable in practice on the scout team.
Gardeck relied on his speed and relentlessness, despite a smaller frame than typical edge rushers at 6-foot, 230 pounds. He carved a role for himself in specific packages, and his defensive snap counts have increased in each of the last three seasons.
But Gardeck told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke that he is improving his technique with new outside linebackers coach Rob Rodriguez to become a more complete rusher.
“My rush approach in the past has kind of been just overwhelming them with speed and then reacting to whatever is going on,” Gardeck said on Friday.
“Rob Rodriguez has done a great job of giving me techniques to be able to use, and now it’s being able to be controlled and poised, know where my eyes need to be, just kind of maturing as a pass rusher. Not just, ‘I’m going to overwhelm him and oh, no, now I’m stuck and I don’t know how to get out of it.'”
The special teams standout said there is a learning curve he’s maneuvering, including un-training with a new defensive coaching staff under head coach Jonathan Gannon.
“If I’ve got my inside hand here and he grabs me, I know exactly what I need to do to get that hand off of me, and I know kind of the next step from that,” Gardeck said.
Gardeck is entering his sixth year with the organization and is on a roster of primarily less experienced players, especially on the edge where he is the elder statesman.
Victor Dimukeje is next behind him with two years of NFL experience. The Cardinals have drafted edge rushers Cameron Thomas, Myjai Sanders and BJ Ojulari over the past two offseasons.
Tipped and picked by @DGardeck ‼️
— NFL (@NFL) October 2, 2022
Gardeck said it is cool to see where his career has gone from being undrafted and solely a special teams player at first.
“As I kind of learned how to be more efficient in my job and more efficient in a season understand where I need to be dialed in and focused and then being able to share that knowledge now in Year 6 to help the next generation, ‘Hey, this is what’s being asked of you at this phase of organized activity or as you get ready for training camp, this is how you want to approach it …’ it’s awesome to be able to give that back,” Gardeck said.
Gardeck had seven sacks in 2020 and has one since, with five quarterback hits last year.
Voluntary OTAs kick back up on Monday before the mandatory minicamp from June 13-15.