New era notes: Dennis Gardeck exceeding DC Nick Rallis’ expectations

Sep 5, 2023, 2:55 PM

TEMPE — Ever since Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck showed up in 2018, Arizona fans, coaches and players know what the barbarian brings to the table.

Effort, energy and (occasionally) EDM.

And while defensive coordinator Nick Rallis and the linebacker have only worked together for one offseason, the newcomer needed no introduction to Gardeck’s mindset and overall game.

“When I was actually in Philly, he was brought to my attention, because he was such a good player,” Rallis said Tuesday. “So, I was able to look at him and I knew what his game was coming in. I was really excited about it, because he’s such a Swiss Army knife. He can do a lot of different things at a high level. That’s the key.

“I love the guy and I love to see where his career’s going. I think he’s going to continue to get better. I’m so happy he’s a captain. He is a leader for this team.”

Gardeck’s reach goes far beyond his teammates, too, with the captain continually collaborating with Rallis and voicing his opinion from a play-calling or scheme standpoint.

“I love having a guy like that,” Rallis added.

Gardeck has a real chance to put up some career numbers in 2023, with the pass rusher in line to start opposite Zaven Collins.

His best season to date defensively came in 2020, where he racked up seven sacks and 10 QB hits across 14 games in place of an injured Chandler Jones.

Down, down

After calling plays on the field and in the booth, this preseason, both Rallis and Petzing have decided on the former when things go live Week 1.

“I was a booth guy my whole career except for one year and I hated it,” Rallis said. “But when you can stand as a play caller, you don’t necessarily have to stand with your position to make sure you’re getting your guys in and out of the game.

“We got great coaches upstairs that can give me information that I need but don’t see. I felt like I could see enough information that I needed to see on the field and I love being there with the players on the field as well. Whether that’s corrections or feeling the tone or the vibe I’m getting from the players, that’s important to be able to connect with those guys in my opinion.”

Tune’s growth “tremendous”

It’s Josh Dobbs or Clayton Tune when it comes to Arizona’s Week 1 starting QB.

And while many believe it’s the former getting the nod come Sunday, the latter has certainly made his mark on Petzing and the rest of the offense.

“From the day he got here, just his work ethic, the way he’s kind of committed himself to learning the offense, understanding the NFL game, doing things the way that we need that position to do them, it’s been really fun to watch,” Petzing said Tuesday.

“His growth’s been tremendous. Really excited with where he’s at.”

Dortch the decision maker

Slowly but surely, Cardinals wide receiver Greg Dortch has gotten more and more looks in the desert.

And for the most part, he’s been able to do something with them.

It’s not just offensively, either, with Dortch expected to be Arizona’s lead return man in 2023.

It’s no surprise to special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, who has watched Dortch take the necessary steps forward the past few seasons.

“The longer the guy’s been in the league, the more situations he’s been in and his decision-making improves,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “The things that kind of go unseen by people that aren’t really looking for it.

“Greg’s got a pretty good skillset with most everything. I think with the reps and the timing and the things that we’ve been exposed to, he’s been able to kind of grow from those experiences on what we like him to do.”

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New era notes: Dennis Gardeck exceeding DC Nick Rallis’ expectations