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Cardinals Plan To Lean On Youth With Pass Rush

Notes: Brown could return next week; First public practice Saturday

Outside linebackers Victor Dimukeje (52), Cameron Thomas (97), Myjai Sanders (41) and Devon Kennard (42) at a recent camp practice.
Outside linebackers Victor Dimukeje (52), Cameron Thomas (97), Myjai Sanders (41) and Devon Kennard (42) at a recent camp practice.

When facing the Cardinals in 2022, opposing offenses won't have to worry about Chandler Jones sacking their quarterback. He's now with the Raiders.

But that's OK for coach Kliff Kingsbury and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph; they have a plan to replace his production. Not individually for the pass rushers, but together as a unit.

The team needs production from rookie pass rushers Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders, and maybe even from 2021 sixth-round pick Victor Dimukeje.

"If they continue to put the work in, I think they will have a chance to help us this year," said Markus Golden, the Cardinals' sack leader in 2021. "They're doing everything and anything the coaches ask of them, and they ask me a lot of questions. They're out there working; anytime I see someone working, that means you'll be that much better by a week or two later."

Thomas and Sanders both had success getting pressure on quarterbacks during their respective college careers, but the next level is different.

"In college, when you play against tackles, they do the same thing: kick, kick, punch, turn their shoulders," Golden said. "Here (in the NFL), you have guys who might kick, punch, jumpset you, fake you with a couple of hand punches, so you just have to go. Don't let the linemen make you think. I've been telling them that if you overthink, it could slow you down. You have to control the rush and not let the linemen control you."

The Cardinals were in a similar position in 2020 when Jones suffered a season-ending biceps injury in Week 5 against the Jets. For the remainder of the year other players stepped up in his absence. Dennis Gardeck, for one, had a career-high seven sacks before tearing an ACL.

Golden had one of his best seasons in 2021, and Gardeck showed his pass rush capabilities pre-ACL tear. Devon Kennard can be a solid rotational piece. If the draft picks can contribute, the Cardinals feel like they can make it work post-Jones.

"I like who we have," Kingsbury said. "You don't replace Chandler Jones. We had to do it a couple of years ago when he was out; Vance did a great job scheming some things with different pressures and looks. We have some talented rushers, but it's about finding the right mix and putting them in a position to be successful."


Quarterback Kyler Murray chatted with the team trainer on Friday about his wrist, but Kingsbury shut down any reason to be concerned after practice.

"Everything is good," Kingsbury said. "He said there was some tenderness, but he threw and threw really well."

Kingsbury said he hopes Hollywood Brown can practice next week after missing time this week with a hamstring injury.


Kingsbury praised Kyler Murray after the quarterback had a press conference to address the criticism around his study habits.

"From what I saw, I thought he just did a great job of being who he is and making his point heard," Kingsbury said. "It's not easy to do when you're a young man growing up and have all this chatter (about you). I thought he handled himself well; I'm just proud of how much he's developed in that area since he's been a Cardinal."


The first public practice of camp is Saturday from 1:30-3 p.m. as part of the NFL's "Back Together Saturday." The Cardinals will have 10 open practices, the final one coming on Aug. 10.

Kingsbury said the players should have "extra juice" during practice with fans watching.

"Anytime they get people in the stadium, it's great for them," Kingsbury said. "They'll go a little harder and have more bounce in their step. It'll be great to see everyone without the covid protocols (in place) and just enjoy the day."