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Amid Uncertain Time, Devon Kennard Returns To Comfortable Surroundings

Arizona native adjusting to new team during coronavirus pandemic

OLB Devon Kennard does a virtual press conference with the Arizona media on Monday afternoon.
OLB Devon Kennard does a virtual press conference with the Arizona media on Monday afternoon.

Devon Kennard is taking this uncertain time in stride.

An introductory press conference was held for the Cardinals' first official free agent addition on Monday afternoon, and while that part was typical, the setup was not.

Due to the coronavirus, reporters lobbed questions at him from their living rooms via videoconference.

"We're making history here," Kennard said to the faces staring back at him through a laptop. "That's the way to start things off on the right foot."

There are going to be plenty of hurdles for Kennard in the ensuing months. He is joining a new team and a foreign defensive system, and it seems doubtful there will be a normal offseason for him to get up to speed.

Even so, the situation couldn't have worked out much better for the 28-year-old outside linebacker.

Kennard was shocked when the Lions released him after back-to-back seven-sack seasons, but he rebounded quickly by inking a three-year deal with the Cardinals worth a reported $20 million.

Kennard was a phenom at Phoenix Desert Vista High School before going out of state for college and the first six years of his NFL career, but now he will practice minutes away from where he was raised.

"It's funny," Kennard said. "I was talking to some of my buddies who I grew up here with and played high school ball with. We'd always have conversations, like, 'How cool it would be if I played for the Cardinals one day?' It's one of those things you didn't think would actually happen, like a what-are-the-chances type of deal. When it did, it was like, 'Wow.'"

Kennard's father, Derek, was an offensive lineman for the Cardinals from 1986-1990. The Kennards will become only the third father-son duo to play for the team, following Kevin and Drew Butler and Terry and Eric Metcalf.

The contract between Kennard and the Cardinals came together quickly, and Devon was excited to tell his father when the momentum began to pick up.

"He couldn't believe it," Kennard said. "I remember when I first mentioned it to him, he was like, 'Really? No way.'"

Kennard is excited to play edge-rusher opposite Chandler Jones, and to join a team that is getting plenty of buzz as one to watch in 2020.

In normal years, offseason work would be right around the corner, but the COVID-19 pandemic is leaving much in the air. Kennard said he is acclimating like everyone else to the new situation.

"It's definitely a change for everybody," Kennard said. "Everyone's going through it, and you've got to adjust and figure out what is going to work for you, and do the best you can to prepare yourself mentally and physically. Hopefully at the end of this, we're still going to have a season."

Whenever the moratorium on socializing is lifted, Kennard will be more than ready to make the easy drive to his new home.

"When I get the green light to do so, I'll be there that day," Kennard said.

Images of the players the Cardinals have added in free agency