Wide receiver Trent Sherfield and linebacker Dennis Gardeck hope to one day make an impact on offense and defense, but until then, they continue to take immense pride in special teams.
Sherfield and Gardeck each came up big in Sunday’s 27-27 tie against the Lions. Sherfield had an impressive solo tackle on the first punt of the game and then recovered a muffed punt at the Detroit 8 in the second quarter, leading to the Cardinals’ first three points.
Gardeck deflected a punt to give the Cardinals the ball at their own 40 on the eventual game-tying touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
“We’re not competing against (the opponent), we’re competing against each other on who can make the most plays,” Gardeck said. “That’s when it’s fun.”
Sherfield and waiver claim addition Charles Washington were the gunners, a pair of new faces at the position following the departure of defensive backs Rudy Ford and Brandon Williams. Sherfield found out Monday he would be a gunner and quickly proved his worth with the fumble recovery.
“I saw it slip out of his hands and it didn’t take a bad hop,” Sherfield said. “I just jumped on it, because that ball, it’s crazy how the ball moves sometimes.”
Gardeck was called for running into the kicker early in the game, and admitted he was gun-shy the next time the team punted. But his aggressiveness soon returned, and he switched sides of the formation to go against a more vulnerable blocker in the fourth and got his hand on the ball.
“In that situation we had to make a play,” Gardeck said. “Can’t be afraid. Chandler (Jones) broke down our huddle and said, ‘Don’t be afraid to make a play.’ That was my play.”
The Cardinals’ special teams was good last year, but it didn’t mean much because the team was often blown out. In close games it can be vital, which was proven on Sunday.
Kicker Zane Gonzalez was 4-of-4 on field goals while Andy Lee posted a 45.3 net punting average on eight attempts. Gardeck and Sherfield were quick to praise special teams coach Jeff Rodgers for getting the group prepared.
“He’s got a great game plan every week,” Gardeck said. “He’s so detailed in his work. We go as he goes. It starts with him.”