It's safe to say Arizona Cardinals linebacker Devon Kennard didn't impress during his 2020 campaign in the desert. After signing a three-year, $20 million deal with the Cardinals in hopes of providing a presence opposite Chandler Jones, Kennard played in 13 games and totaled just three sacks last season.
It's safe to say expectations from both fans and Kennard himself were not met. It's also safe to say Kennard believes 2021 is a new opportunity.
"I just look at this year as a fresh start,” Kennard said Friday. “I feel healthy, I feel really good right now. So (I'm) taking it one day at a time, locked in on my job, trying to do everything I can (for) the team. Be the best that I can be.”
Kennard's 2020 season was impacted by time spent on the COVID-19 reserve list after testing positive and also affected by a hamstring issue.
Kennard is expected to play behind Markus Golden at the beginning of the season, and with the eventual return of Dennis Gardeck on the horizon, now is the time for Kennard to make his presence felt.
Part of doing that includes help from proclaimed pass-rush guru B.T. Jordan, a coaching intern with the Cardinals.
"I had pass rush that we've drilled and I actually took to live practice,” Kennard said when asked about Jordan. “I came up to him and said that, so it's really cool to be able to have that and bounce stuff off of each other.”
Kennard also commented on the defense's overall progress through training camp thus far.
"I like how we've worked the last three days, I like where we're at right now, I like our mentality,” said Kennard. “We've got a lot of talented guys in the front. If we have the mentality we've had these first three days of camp, then I think we can be a tough unit to deal with.”
Kennard's intelligence off the field comes with no questions. Being a multi-year team representative for the NFLPA and speaking to incoming rookies about financial literacy implies Kennard has the mental capabilities to provide Arizona with the mental values of the game.
However, it's ultimately up to Kennard's production on the field to prove to himself and the rest of the team he can compete for large quantities of snaps when the season begins.