Jordan Hicks a Surprise Pick as Cardinals Name 9 Captains for 2021

Jordan Hicks - Cardinals

Getty Cardinals LB Jordan Hicks celebrates after a defensive stop against the Eagles.

The Arizona Cardinals have announced the team captains for the 2021 season, with quarterback Kyler Murray, defensive end J.J. Watt and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins headlining the nine-player list.

Safety Budda Baker and linebackers Chandler Jones and Jordan Hicks join Watt as defensive captains, while linemen Rodney Hudson and D.J. Humphries round out the list on the offensive side of the ball. Linebacker Dennis Gardeck is the captain on special teams.

It’s the fourth time Jones has served as captain for the Cardinals, and the second time for Murray, Baker, Humphries, Hicks and Gardeck. Hopkins, now in his second year in Arizona, becomes a Cardinals captain for the first time, along with Watt and Hudson.

Murray, 24, now in his third season, said being voted as a team captain “means a lot.”

“My teammates believe in me. They see me as a captain,” Murray told reporters Wednesday, September 8.  “Those guys believing in me, trusting in me to go out there and lead them, it’s a huge deal for me.”

Hicks Turns Strong Camp Into Captain Role

The surprise pick among the captains is Hicks, who begins his seventh NFL season as a backup to rookie linebacker Zaven Collins.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that Hicks, now in his third season in Arizona, is coming off his “best camp that I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” and he’s expected to see significant action in 2021.

“Jordan will have a nice role,” Kingsbury said Tuesday, September 7. “He’s a guy who continues to be a great leader on this team and has played a lot of snaps in this defense and really has a great feel for it.”

Hicks, 29, started all 32 games for the Cardinals the past two seasons, amassing 268 tackles in 2019 and 2020 — the sixth most in the NFL during that span. The 6-foot-1, 236-pound linebacker also had 12 games of 10 or more tackles over the past two seasons. He signed a four-year contract with the Cardinals in March 2019 after spending four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Unblockable Gardeck Finds Niche on Special Teams

Gardeck was voted as the Cardinals’ special teams captain for the second year in a row. He finished the 2020 season with seven sacks, seven tackles for a loss and 10 quarterback hits while playing just 93 defensive snaps.

The undrafted free agent from the University of Sioux Falls is now in his fourth year in Arizona. He was slowed by injury during training camp, so the Cardinals are expected to be cautious with how much he plays to start the season, Kingsbury said.

Gardeck, 27, earned his spot on the roster mainly due to his play on special teams, Kingsbury said.

“Every time he played scout team, they couldn’t block him,” the Cardinals coach told reporters on Monday, September 6. “It turned out they couldn’t block him in games either. We just want him to be healthy, be full speed, and then his package will continue to expand as well.”

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