Cardinals Put Special Teams Captain on IR, Activate 2 From Practice Squad

Dennis Gardeck - Arizona Cardinals

Getty Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck (left) and outside linebacker Haason Reddick (center) celebrate with Zach Allen after a sack on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts at State Farm Stadium on December 20, 2020, in Glendale, Arizona.

Ahand injury in practice and continued recovery from ACL surgery will sideline Arizona Cardinals special teams captain Dennis Gardeck for at least three weeks.

The Cardinals placed Gardeck on injured reserve Saturday, September 11, a day after ruling him out for Arizona’s season-opener against the Tennessee Titans.

The Cardinals were being cautious with the 27-year-old linebacker and limiting his participation in practice and training camp following ACL surgery in January. Despite those efforts, Gardeck sustained a hand injury in practice Thursday, September 9.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters Friday, September 10, the injury likely would sideline the fourth-year special teams star beyond the Sunday, September 12, season-opener in Tennessee.

Arizona signed linebacker Kylie Fitts from the practice squad to fill Gardeck’s spot on the active roster. The Cardinals also promoted cornerback Antonio Hamilton from the practice squad to the active roster to replace wide receiver Antoine Wesley, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, September 10, following a positive test.

Fitts, 26, now in his third season with the Cardinals, saw action in 13 games last season and set career highs with six tackles and a quarterback hit on defense, along with three special teams tackles. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound linebacker out of Utah was a sixth-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 2018.

Hamilton, 28, is now in his sixth NFL season. The 6-foot, 188-pound cornerback from South Carolina State played in all 16 regular-season games and three playoff games for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. He started his career in 2016 with the Raiders and also played two seasons with the New York Giants.

Gardeck, an undrafted free agent from the University of Sioux Falls who signed with the Cardinals in 2018, was selected as a captain for the second year in a row on Wednesday, September 8.

He had seven sacks, seven tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits while playing just 93 defensive snaps in 2020. He was injured in the Cardinals’ 33-26 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15 last season.

Cardinals Should Have Edge at Kicker

One position where the Cardinals appear to have an advantage over the Titans in Week 1 is at kicker.

Arizona signed two-time Pro Bowl kicker Matt Prater to a two-year deal during the offseason. Prater, 37, is a 14-year veteran who played the past seven seasons with the Detroit Lions and spent his first seven seasons with the Denver Broncos.

Meanwhile in Tennessee, kicker Sam Ficken was placed on injured reserve Saturday, September 11.

One day after being signed to the practice squad, former Chargers kicker Michael Badgley was promoted to the active roster Saturday, September 11, and is expected to handle the kicking duties against the Cardinals. The Titans also signed former Cincinnati Bengals kicker Randy Bullock to the practice squad.

Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell talked about the importance of the Prater signing in an interview with play-by-play announcer Dave Pasch on “The Dave Pasch Podcast,” noting that Arizona lost three games last season that were decided by field goals.

Prater played a role in one of those losses when he kicked a 39-yard-field goal on the final play of the Lions’ 26-23 victory over the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Week 3.

“I kind of chalk up that Matt Prater is going to be helping us win three games this year at least,” Bidwell said.

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