The front office of the Arizona Cardinals has made an obvious effort to hold on to as many special teams demons as possible
Back in 2018, the Arizona Cardinals went out and hired a savior for their special teams unit. Jeff Rodgers was brought to the desert to fix the mess that the squad’s previous coordinator, Amos Jones, had left behind. The contingent showed dramatic improvement under Rodgers, and it’s apparent that the Cards want the group’s success to continue in 2020.
To help make that happen, Arizona’s decision-makers peppered the final roster with a plethora of individuals who excel in that area. This past weekend, clubs around the NFL were forced to get down to the league-mandated limit of 53 players. One look at the final configuration of the Cardinals, and it’s hard not to notice the influence that Rodgers has on head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s team.
Helping to prove that point is Trent Sherfield, a third-year wideout out of Vanderbilt University. Hakeem Butler, a fourth-round draft pick out of Iowa State University, essentially had his job taken away by the former undrafted free agent. Sherfield’s prowess on special teams (he recorded eight tackles in 2019) almost certainly earned him the final wide receiver roster spot that many believed Butler would be awarded.
Another example is rookie Evan Weaver, an inside linebacker who many draft experts were high on. The sixth-round selection was released (and has since been added to the practice squad) in favor of Ezekiel Turner and Tanner Vallejo, two vital members of the Cards special teams crew.
There are a few other special teams stars that Rodgers is likely thrilled to have back for another campaign. Outside linebacker Dennis Gardeck led the unit with nine tackles last fall. Defensive backs Chris Banjo and Charles Washington tallied seven tackles apiece in ’19.
Arizona’s management has learned from past mistakes. Special teams is an integral part of any franchise’s Super Bowl aspirations. Rodgers is around to make sure that the Cardinals don’t forget that fact.