Dennis Gardeck was a Cardinals special teams ace for the first two years of his career, playing the vast majority of snaps on the unit.
But he’d never played a regular-season defensive rep until last season.
Gardeck was on the field for just nine percent of the snaps on the unit in 2020, but still registered 7.0 sacks — good for second on the team. Gardeck was mainly playing in known-passing situations, but still took advantage of his limited opportunities with Chandler Jones sidelined by a torn bicep.
“Part of it was cool to see all the hard work pay off, but also it was such a small snap count, such a limited number of reps. I am aware it’s a little skewed,” Gardeck said, via Darren Urban of the Cardinals’ website. “I look forward to putting more out there.”
But in Week 15, Gardeck suffered a season-ending injury of his own, tearing the ACL in his right knee. He’d recorded 5.0 sacks in his last three games from Week 13 on.
Gardeck does not have an exact timetable for his return, given he suffered the injury so late in the season. But head coach Kliff Kingsbury is not ruling out Gardeck being ready for the start of the regular season.
“I wouldn’t put anything past Dennis,” Kingsbury said. “He looks great and it sounds like he is ahead of schedule by all accounts, so we will see how he feels going into training camp. If he’s not ready for the start, I’d expect him to be ready soon thereafter.”