In a move not at all surprising, the Cardinals placed linebacker Dennis Gardeck on the active/physically to perform (PUP) list as rookies and other players reported for the start of training camp Thursday. The team’s remaining veterans report Tuesday (July 27) with the first practice the following day. The first open practice for the public is July 30.
Players with previous injuries that aren’t cleared to practice at the start of camp are routinely placed on PUP, but still count on the active roster. They can pass their physical at any time during camp and begin practicing.
At the cutdown to 53 players, players still on PUP status must either be cleared to practice and remain on the roster or be placed on reserve/PUP. Those players aren’t able to begin practicing and eventually be activated until after the sixth week of the regular season.
Last season, Gardeck suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in a Week-15 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. To that point, the unheralded undrafted free agent in 2018 had developed into one of the team’s best special-teams players and also had 7.0 sacks in only 93 defensive snaps in 2020.
The most difficult part of his rehab has been dialing things back and listening to the team’s trainers. He had torn the ACL in the same knee during his senior year in high school.
Gardeck told the team website (AZCardinals.com) in June, "I'm a little bit of a head case, as you might imagine. It's that feeling of, 'I should have done more' that kind of drives me. I always feel I need to do the most. (The training staff) are all like, 'Doing the most is not what is beneficial right now. It's doing what's right for your knee.'"
The Cardinals had no question how hard Gardeck would rehab that they tendered him as a restricted free agent in March at the second-round compensation level of $3.384 million.
During the team’s minicamp in June, head coach Kliff Kingsbury was asked if Gardeck might be ready for the start of training camp. He said, “I wouldn't put anything past Dennis. He looks great and it sounds like he is ahead of schedule by all accounts, so we will see how he feels going into training camp. If he's not ready for the start, I'd expect him to be ready soon thereafter."