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Dennis Gardeck Continues To Make A Name For Himself

Linebacker's sacks-per-snap ratio impresses Cardinals

Linebacker Dennis Gardeck bears down on Giants quarterback Daniel Jones for a sack during a win last weekend in New York.
Linebacker Dennis Gardeck bears down on Giants quarterback Daniel Jones for a sack during a win last weekend in New York.

The first time Dennis Gardeck had a pair of sacks in a game, the Jets didn't know who he was.

The second time Gardeck had two sacks in a game – also in MetLife Stadium, for those keeping track of such things – the Cardinals' linebacker still wasn't necessarily a household (locker room-hold?) name.

"I got my first sack and it was kind of a mixture of reviews from their offensive line," Gardeck said. "They (the Giants) were asking who I was as I was celebrating, but then they also knew I only got six or seven snaps a game so, they obviously they must of watched some tape on me. I'm not sure. Still some mixed reviews on that."

Not that it matters much. The Cardinals continue to be impressed with a player they have come to know well. Gardeck is second on the team with five sacks, a solid if surprising season for the former undrafted player on a team that has replaced injured pass-rusher extraordinaire Chandler Jones with a collective.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury praised outside linebackers coach Charlie Bullen for the efforts – "It's not about who gets there, it's just about getting there," Kingsbury said – but they have also had some unexpected efforts. Haason Reddick is the talk of the NFL after his five-sack game gave him 10 this season.

Then there is Gardeck, who, like Reddick, was used as an inside linebacker before this season.

"I don't think any of us saw this coming from Gardeck except maybe the offensive line who had to go against him on scout team the last couple of years," Kingsbury said.

Unlike Reddick, who already had a role before Jones got hurt, Gardeck had none. The first defensive snaps of his career came in the game Jones was injured, and he doesn't get many. There were only eight against the Giants – he remains one of the team's top special teams players – and he has averaged only 5.5 defensive snaps a game over the last six games.

With five sacks, he averages a sack every 13.8 snaps this season, an impressive ratio. But he isn't campaigning for more playing time.

"I'll take whatever opportunity I can to get out on the field," Gardeck said. "I think the packages I am in fit my skillset very well. (Defensive coordinator) Vance (Joseph) talked about being a star in your role … and whatever your role is, you do it to the best of your ability. I'm not worried about how else they can use me. That's their job. My job is to be the best the way they are using me."

That doesn't mean he can't make his defensive appearances memorable. Like his sack dance, which definitely catches the attention of opponents and is here to stay.

"I think if it ain't broke, don't fix it," Gardeck said. " 'Hitting the strobe' is working for me so I'm going to continue that. Chandler (Jones) never switches up the guitar celebration and he's getting like four sacks a game sometimes so, I think I can stick with 'Hitting the strobe.' "

JUSTIN MURRAY LISTED AS STARTER

When the latest depth chart was released Tuesday, Justin Murray has been moved into the starting right guard spot ahead of J.R. Sweezy. Murray had started for Sweezy Sunday in New York, although Murray moved to left guard when Justin Pugh left the game with a calf injury.

Images from the 26-7 victory at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

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