Training camp is always a mixed bag of tricks when the Arizona Cardinals are a young team with intriguing players vying for roster spots. And when the inevitable injuries strike, you get to see which players have been giving coaches positive impressions because they often get a chance to take reps with the First Team.
But sometimes, a player performs well enough that they will organically see time with the top unit. As for the players listed below, it’s been a little bit of everything - some are getting reps because they are playing in a weak position group, and others, because of early-season injuries.
3 under-the-radar Arizona Cardinals players getting First Team reps
1 - Dante Stills, DT
The Arizona Cardinals drafted Dante Stills this past April at 213th overall, but we stated a few times that you shouldn’t count him out despite his Day 3 draft status and inexperience. Stills is on a defensive line full of fringe and role players, and it appears he’s taking advantage of the unit’s weaknesses.
This doesn’t mean that Stills will be a major factor when mid-September rolls around. But it indicates he’s been making a positive impression with Jonathan Gannon, Nick Rallis, and Company.
2 - Dennis Gardeck, EDGE
Throughout the offseason, I wasn’t really sure what to make of Dennis Gardeck, since it’s been two full campaigns since his successful 7.0 sack outing in 2020. But with B.J. Ojulari missing time and Myjai Sanders still unable to go, someone had to step up.
This shows us that Gardeck has also been impressive in camp, and it will be interesting if he can maintain his momentum when Ojulari and Sanders are cleared to return. In the meantime, it seems like Gardeck is in the thick of vying for some serious playing time.
3 - Kei’Trel Clark, CB
Earlier, we stated Kei’Trel Clark was seeing time with the starting unit, rotating in and out with Christian Matthew. On Thursday, he got the nod to take the first reps with the starters, which could indicate he’s holding a slight edge over the second year Matthew.
Like Stills, Clark was a late round Day 3 pick, putting him slightly behind the eight-ball. But so far, he’s been one of the more impressive youngsters in camp. And like Gardeck, he will see eventual competition for the CB2 job once Garrett Williams returns. But for the time being, Clark will do all he can to separate himself from the competition.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)
Source: Cardinals Camp Notes: Young Guys Shine in Pads by Donnie Druin, SI