It’s ‘divorce season’ for Arizona Cardinals’ Dennis Gardeck

It’s ‘divorce season’ for Arizona Cardinals’ Dennis Gardeck

TEMPE — This is the quietest part of the NFL offseason. There’s no NFL Draft to prepare for, and organized team activities and minicamps are a thing of the past, with training camp nearly two weeks away.

Unless you handle the downtime like Arizona Cardinals pass rusher Dennis Gardeck.

In addition to becoming a father this offseason – which he’s fully committed to – the veteran pass rusher is doing everything he can to add an extra edge to training camp.

“I train off-facility at Apex Performance in Phoenix. (Victor Dimukeje, Jesse Luketa, Darius Robinson and Xavier Thomas) have been there. It’s cool to see the guys a little bit, but right now it’s kind of a separation season,” Gardeck said Tuesday. “You’re trying to compete and get ready to go. Put your best foot forward in training camp.”

Gardeck is entering his seventh year with the Cardinals and is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, recording six sacks, seven tackles for loss, four passes defensed, a forced fumble and a team-high 12 QB hits.

On top of his stat line, the outside linebacker set a new record in games played by appearing in all 17 games for the first time since the league extended the schedule. His leadership in the OLBs room cannot be understated either.

It was a strong season for Gardeck on many fronts, but it is a new year with new goals in mind.

“I’ve got to do more,” Gardeck said. “I’ve got to be able to fill whatever role I need to do and try to expand, not just be a pass rusher or this or that. Just develop my game as a whole.”

A good way to do that? Picking the brain of fellow pass rusher and former inside linebacker Zaven Collins, who was in and out of coverage in addition to pressuring the quarterback last season.

And it doesn’t stop at Collins.

“Zaven and I talk all the time and I like working with the offense, the other side of the ball,” Gardeck said. “‘What do you see? What’s your thought process?’ I like talking to offensive linemen. A lot of them give stuff away. I think it’s great to learn from each other because it’s like, ‘Hey, I was really trying to manipulate you on that set. I really wanted you to short-set me or something.’ He’ll say, ‘You don’t have to, because I can slide on you.’

“That’s one of my favorite moments. I think that’s how my brain works and I don’t even think about where the slide is going and this and that. It really helped to be able to add that different perspective to my game.”