What we learned in Ep. 3 of Cardinals Flight Plan

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The Arizona Cardinals released the latest episode of Cardinals Flight Plan, which documents the offseason for fans, giving them a peek into the organization.

The focus of this episode was on the offseason program — OTAs and minicamp.

What did we learn in this edition?

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

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GM Steve Keim pleased with mental approach by newcomers, rookies

Keim named specific veterans and draft picks when he spoke of the "businesslike approach" the team was having in the offseason program, something he was pleased with. He noted defensive end J.J. Watt and cornerback Malcolm Butler, who were both free agent acquisitions. Keim also spoke highly of the classroom work of the team's top three draft picks — linebacker Zaven Collins, receiver Rondale Moore and cornerback Marco Wilson. "(They) are really, really strong in the meeting rooms with their attention to detail, and obviously that transfers to the field," he said.

There are no worries about Dennis Gardeck's return from injury

The episode also highlighted the team's most surprising player of the season, linebacker Dennis Gardeck. He had seven sacks in only 93 defensive snaps before he tore his ACL. They gave him a second-round tender as a restricted free agent despite the injury. It is because Keim completely believes in Gardeck and what he is about as a football player. "When Dennis Gardeck got hurt, he was one person that I don't think there was anybody that had a concern that he would bounce back just because of his mentality, his mental makeup, the way he's committed to the game," Keim said. "He's in here early. He's here all day. He's been working hard with (head athletic trainer) Tom Reed and his staff. No one works harder than Dennis."

We can expect Kliff Kingsbury to be more involved with the defense

Thus far as head coach, the perception has been that defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has been more or less the head coach of the defense and Kingsbury would handle the offense. That apparently is changing this year. "I think one of the things Kliff probably has identified is. 'Hey, I want to do a little more with the defense. I want to spend a little more time over on that side of the ball and make sure that those guys understand that I have skin in the game when it comes to the whole entire team, including special teams,'" Keim said in the episode. He left no doubt that he believes in Kingsbury for his offensive skills — calling plays and developing quarterback. "His offensive acumen is excellent."

Jamal Carter, Donald Rutledge have Kingsbury's eye

Kliff Kingsbury is not one to single out the performance of individual players publicly during the offseason. However, this episode caught a comment he made to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph about a pair of players not likely expected to make the team. "27 and 43 are both tough, big, smart guys, and they take it serious, too," he told Joseph. Jamal Carter is No. 27 and Donald Rutledge is No. 43. Both are listed at 6-1 and 215 pounds. On the roster, they are listed as inside linebackers but both in this episode and in the open parts of practice, they did position drills with safeties. These might be a pair of players to pay attention to in training camp at a position where there is a ton of competition.

Kingsbury thinks A.J. Green still has it

Kingsbury was quite complimentary of Green, one of the Cardinals' notable additions in free agency. While many think that Green is basically washed up, Kingsbury likes what he saw in minicamp." "He can still go, man. 18, he can still really go," he told an assistant. "And I wouldn't want to press him if I'm a DB. He's so physical at the line."

Kingsbury optimistic about Christian Kirk playing inside

After being used primarily outside in his first three seasons in the league, Christian Kirk now moves primarily to the slot. It is where most believed initially he would fit best in the pros when he was drafted. In the episode, Kingsbury asks Kirk if he feels good on the inside, to which he gets an affirmative response. "I like it," Kingsbury told him. "I think it's going to be good and if we need you outside, we can get you outside."

O-line coach Sean Kugler unhappy with voting on his food

Left tackle D.J. Humphries details a three-year tradition at the end of minicamp, which he called the offensive line cookoff. He said his banana pudding has won three years in a row. But it is Kugler who is a little salty at the final vote. Owner Michael Bidwill is asked for his vote, which goes initially to Humphries' pudding. But in a separate category, Bidwill couldn't quite decide between the bacon meatloaf and the veal meatballs. He chose the meatloaf. That dish was prepared by assistant offensive line coach Brian Natkins. Kugler made the meatballs. Kugler jokingly dismissed Bidwill. Between the meatballs and meatloaf, the voting came down to quarterback Kyler Murray. He went with the meatloaf, to which Kugler responded, "you (expletive)," which was greeted by laughter. He also joked the depth chart would change in training camp based on voting. Good times!

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