TEMPE — When the franchise’s all-time sacks leader heads to another team, there’s bound to be a glaring hole on the defense.
The Arizona Cardinals aren’t oblivious to the obvious, either: there’s not one person that can replace the production and attention Chandler Jones brought with him in the desert.
Taking that into account, Arizona decided to add a pair of third-round pass rushers in Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders this past NFL Draft. Their future production remains to be seen, but the additions give the Cardinals options.
And while it’s early on in the rookies’ first offseason, veterans are already taking notice of the duo.
“I think they both have the opportunity to be long-standing guys in this league and can really step up and make a difference,” outside linebacker Devon Kennard said on the Big Red Rage on Thursday.
“I’m interested to see how things go when the pads come on. … The most I can say is in the classroom they’re really starting to pick things up. That’s important.”
Aside from what the rookies can pick up from the coaching staff, they also have two veterans who have been in their shoes in Markus Golden and Kennard.
Golden and Kennard were thrown into the mix early on in their careers, picking up multiple starts in Year 1.
From someone who’s been there, Thomas and Sanders are setting themselves up for success.
“Young guys often ask, ‘What’s the secret?’” Kennard said. “And for me, if you can limit mistakes and don’t make the same mistake twice, you’re going to put yourself in good position because now you can play free if you know what you’re doing and you’re doing the right thing. Then you can let your athleticism take hold.
“I think they’re taking the right steps to really have the defense down so when the pads come on and things really get to cracking they’ll be in a position to make plays.”