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Cardinals Working Benefits Of Zach Ertz, Trey McBride And Tight Ends

Notes: Dimukeje finding footing as pass rusher; Gannon builds culture

Tight end Zach Ertz can't quite come down with a deep pass against the Giants last weekend.
Tight end Zach Ertz can't quite come down with a deep pass against the Giants last weekend.

Zach Ertz chuckled, because the play should've worked – it did work – when he ran down the left sideline Sunday and Joshua Dobbs just overthrew him on a play that could've been a 37-yard touchdowns.

"Hopefully we get some more opportunities," the tight end said Thursday. "That's a play we were excited about all week and we were just inches away. That's just going to come with running the routes together.

"Both of us regret that play, and it stinks we couldn't get seven points there."

Like Ertz, Dobbs said the two will continue to get better as practices pile up. "We are going to hit those," the quarterback said.

But it also underscored what has been apparent after two games – that offensive coordinator Drew Petzing's offense likes to use tight ends, and use them in different ways. Ertz, coming off an ACL injury, is the Cardinals' leading receiver with 12 catches (for 77 yards). Trey McBride has four catches for 55 yards, and both he and veteran Geoff Swaim have had long catch-and-run plays negated because of penalties.

"With how much we run the ball and how well we have done, I think it opens things up for us (tight ends) in the pass game," McBride said. "With Zach, Geoff and I, we have good tight ends in our room and we try to get us the ball. That's what we're going to do, be in 12 personnel, and I'm all for it."

Ertz cautioned that there will be weeks when the tight ends won't be used much as pass targets, although with the current play-action uptick that seems unlikely. But both he and McBride like the usage whether it is getting the ball or helping someone else prosper.

"I like how I can be the 'X' receiver, I can be the in-line tight end, I can be the move guy," Ertz said. "It's the fun part of being a tight end. You kind of have to be able to do it all, and they are asking me to do it all right now."


Victor Dimukeje was on the team but deep on the depth chart his first two seasons, but with a new defense the former sixth-round pick has had a noticeable uptick in his game. The outside linebacker has the first 1½ sacks of his career, has three quarterback hits in two games and a forced fumble.

"I'm just playing a lot faster," Dimukeje said. "In the pass rush I'm using my hands better, and overall (better) effort running to the ball. I have a greater confidence level when I'm out there."

At one point, Dimukeje called defensive coordinator Nick Rallis a "mastermind."

"I like the way Vic is playing," Rallis said. "He's playing pretty physical and he's rushing really well. Happy with Vic and happy Vic is happy with me."


The Cardinals are 0-2, but they have played better than many expected and coach Jonathan Gannon said he likes the direction of the team early in the season.

"We're acting the right way in my opinion," Gannon said. "How you go about your day of improving on a daily basis in all facets, you don't want to be results-oriented. You've got to be process driven. Our guys understand that, and we've got to just do things a little bit better to get the results that we want but I like the path that we're on."