All Cameron Thomas wants for Christmas is a sack of Tom Brady.
All Myjai Sanders wants for Christmas is a sack of Tom Brady.
All the Cardinals want is for their rookie linebackers to continue their upward trend as the season comes to a close -- although sacking Brady would be a good sign of that progress.
Finding long-term pass rushers was the goal of the Cards in last year's draft, why they took Thomas and Sanders with back-to-back third-round picks. When the Cardinals (4-10) face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) at State Farm Stadium on Sunday night, for Thomas, it will be another chance to show what they have learned.
There were plenty of learning moments during Thomas' rookie season, and adjusting to the professional level took some time. However, Thomas always had the advantage of constantly learning from future Hall of Famer J.J.Watt, and it's helped his development.
"Just the little things," Thomas said. "I lifted with him (this week), and we talked through details and game plan execution. I see what he does visually and apply it to myself."
Thomas has two sacks this season but wants to gift his family a Christmas Gift by sacking Tom Brady, who many consider the greatest quarterback ever. In Year 23, Brady has completed 66 percent of his passes for nearly 3,900 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions.
"For a young player to come in here and realize how much uncertainty Tom has left on the clock, I have my eyes on it," Thomas said. "My family is from Michigan and are Michigan fans, and it would make their Christmas if I could bring him down. That's something I look forward to."
Sanders has also grown as a player. Sanders has two sacks and a fumble recovery this year.
The pass-rusher credits the veterans in the locker room for his growth and ability to process the game plan faster. And like Thomas, Sanders hopes to record a sack against Brady during their first-ever match up but for a different reason. His sister who passed away in 2016.
"Playing against Tom Brady is almost everyone's dream," Sanders said. "Tom Brady was my sister's favorite quarterback, so it would be big to sack him for her."
ROOF OPEN: The roof for State Farm Stadium is expected to be open for the Cardinals-Buccaneers game. Fans are asked to dress accordingly.