Safety Chris Banjo and OL Eric Smith were promoted to the active roster from the practice squad. But there’s one more move that really should get Cardinals fans excited. The Cardinals also activated linebacker Dennis Gardeck from the injured reserve on Saturday. Cornerback Luc Barcoo’s release on September 30 gave Arizona an extra roster spot for Gardeck.
Gardeck tore his ACL late last season and was on track for the season opener. Unfortunately, he broke his hand in practice before the season started. This activation comes at a time where any additional help on defense to stop the Rams’ dominant offensive line would be needed. Gardeck can also provide in the special teams’ department.
Another player that can help in special teams is Banjo. He made a career-high 48 tackles in 2020. Banjo was cut during the 53-man roster cuts in August but was kept on the practice squad. He’s played in two games so far in 2021 and has two tackles.
Offensive tackle Smith made his way onto the active roster due to injuries on the offensive line.
Not many Cardinals fans would’ve thought Gardeck would be second on the team in sacks before his 2020 campaign. In fact, Gardeck had seven sacks in just 93 defensive snaps. He was only behind former Cardinal Haason Reddick’s 12 sacks. Gardeck holds the team record for most sacks for an undrafted player.
He provided much-needed help once pass-rusher Chandler Jones was out for the season with an elbow injury in Week 5. It was a remarkable story when Gardeck stepped in and had his first two sacks in his NFL career against the New York Jets.
Gardeck was undrafted out of Sioux Falls in 2018 and made his mark in his first two seasons as a special teams specialist. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate on special teams in 2019 after leading the team with 10 tackles and one fumble recovery.
His locker room presence can’t be denied. First-year Cardinal J.J. Watt has already acknowledged how much of a difference-maker Gardeck is in that aspect.
“Dennis is a fan-favorite, locker room favorite,” said Watt on August 23. “He’s a guy who everyone seems to love. He’s a hard worker, great work ethic and seems to get along with everybody. He took control of the music in the locker room before practice. It was dance, EDM type of stuff. But the first song, it took a good 12 minutes for the beat to drop. It took awhile, but we got there and it was great.”
Offensive Line Injury Updates
The elevation of OT Eric Smith signals right tackle Kelvin Beachum may not be available in Week 4. Smith was signed on September 7.
The Cardinals also signed offensive lineman Shaq Calhoun, Danny Isidora, Zack Johnson and Michal Menet to the practice squad this week.
Arizona’s offensive line has been hampered with injuries. Left guard Justin Pugh and right tackle Justin Murray are game-time decisions with their respective injuries. Second-year OL Josh Jones was solid last week at RT and another good performance can cement his starting status. Sean Harlow and Max Garcia took over for Pugh and Murray against the Jaguars and provided much-needed support.
This comes at a time where the offensive line is crucial against a ferocious Rams defensive line which starts with Aaron Donald.