TEMPE — When the dust settled on the Arizona Cardinals’ initial 53-man roster, linebacker Victor Dimukeje was one of five rookies to make the cut.
Making an NFL roster is an accomplishment in its own right. Cracking the 53-man as a sixth-round pick is even more impressive, though not surprising to those in the locker room.
“He’s a young guy who has a bright future ahead of him,” linebacker Devon Kennard said Tuesday. “I think he has a chance to be a really good player in this league. Eager to learn. He’s lucky enough to have a veteran position group with me, [Chandler Jones] and [Markus Golden].
“Asks a lot of questions, watches film and you can tell he wants to get better, wants to be good so I’m excited to see him develop throughout this season and the rest of his career.”
There’s been a lot on the former Duke Blue Devil’s plate this offseason, living the NFL grind for the first time and getting used to his new surroundings while also transitioning from a true defensive lineman to an outside linebacker.
Luckily for Dimukeje, the support system of Jones, Golden, Kennard and J.J. Watt, along with his attention to detail, have helped the process along for the rookie.
“One thing I learned before I came to the NFL is don’t try to make a mistake twice, so that’s on what I pride myself on, doing the little things right,” Dimukeje said.
“Being critical of every little thing, that’s my biggest focus. After every practice I watch film to see where I can better and where I an improve. I feel like that’s paying huge dividends for me.”
Still, there’s gonna be peaks and valleys for any rookie going through their first training camp.
After getting his feet wet in the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys with a fumble recovery on the stat sheet, Dimukeje had a much better showing against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs the following week, recording five tackles over the course of 58 snaps. He tied linebacker Ezekiel Turner for third on the team in tackles.
Rookie LB Victor Dimukeje on his first preseason action last Friday: pic.twitter.com/WxVase4O2K
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) August 18, 2021
Unknowing to them at the time, the Cardinals’ 17-10 loss to the Chiefs would wrap up their preseason after the team’s finale against the New Orleans Saints was canceled due to Hurricane Ida.
And from the end result of making the 53-man roster, Dimukeje clearly showed enough from his game film and overall mentality throughout camp.
“He played hard, he had his moments I thought,” Kingsbury said after watching the tape back on the rookie. “It didn’t seem like it was too big for him going against the first-team Kansas City Chiefs offense. Long way to go but he’s definitely gotten better each week.”
– Dimukeje on Golden’s energy level:
“I’m trying to get to his level. Markus’ energy is kinda up there but I’m gonna to get there.”