Cardinals have roster options still for OLB Dennis Gardeck if he isn’t ready for Week 1

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The Arizona Cardinals activated linebacker Dennis Gardeck from PUP on Monday before practice, allowing him to get some on-field work with his teammates for the first time since last December.

He tore his ACL in Week 15 and now is on track to play, although that might not be in Week 1.

He told reporters Monday after practice his situation is still “day-to-day” and that “it’s too far ahead yet” to project when he would play again.

By taking him off PUP, the option of saving a roster spot to start the year is sort off the table. Had he remained on PUP until final cuts, he would be ineligible to play for the first six weeks of the season but he would not burn a roster spot.

If they don’t think he can play in Week 1, they still have other options.

They could simply make him inactive for a game or two, but that still uses a roster spot.

They do also have another possibility.

Because the rules for injured reserve have changed, any player can return from it. Previously, a player had to be out eight weeks and only one or two players could be designated to return. Before that, heading to IR automatically ended the player’s season.

Now, if a player makes the initial 53-man roster, he can go on IR and return in as early as three weeks.

If they think he will be out at least three weeks, they could put him on the 53-man roster and then place him on injured reserve, allowing them to sign another player to play in those first three weeks.

By all accounts, he has been ahead of schedule in his rehab, but head coach Kliff Kingsbury says they will be cautious and smart about his actual return to playing.

So whether it is in Week 1 or soon after that, Gardeck will, in fact, be part of the final 53 when rosters are cut down next week by Tuesday afternoon.

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Updated Cardinals 53-man roster projections after 2 preseason games

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