Dennis Gardeck, the fan-favorite linebacker who emerged as a legitimate pass rushing weapon for the Cardinals this year, won't play again this season because of the knee injury he suffered late in the Cards' win over Philadelphia last weekend.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury revealed on Thursday Gardeck will be going on Injured Reserve.
"With Dennis, he's such a tough guy, we were kind of exploring every option to get him out there," Kingsbury said. "It doesn't appear it'll work out so he'll be put on IR."
Gardeck was trying to make a tackle of Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts on a scramble up the middle on Philadelphia's final drive Sunday. He went down in a pile of bodies and immediately grabbed his right knee.
It is a difficult way for Gardeck's Cinderella season to end. Already a special-teams ace -- he was named a captain because of his special teams play and was a Pro Bowl alternate last year -- Gardeck was pressed into the first defensive snaps of his career earlier this year against the Jets once Chandler Jones went down with his season-ending elbow injury.
Gardeck had two sacks in that game in limited reps. And while his reps never increased significantly -- he has just 93 defensive snaps this season -- he was second on the team with seven sacks. His sack total is more than other star pass rushers like J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan or Chase Young.
He had another two sacks against the Eagles.
"He's been a big part of our 'NASCAR' package and our 'Jet' package," defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. "He makes it go. He's the quarterback. He actually makes the calls with our pass-rush games. So that part we're going to miss and pass on to someone else. After that, he refuses to lose. Most of his sacks, he's been blocked, he's been stoned, and he just won't stop. For a big offensive lineman, blocking him consistently is tough, because his energy level, the speed he plays with and the power he can generate with that body, it's very rare.
"We're going to miss Dennis. For sure."