The Arizona Cardinals’ 2021 roster of team captains is long, but seventh-year offensive tackle DJ Humphries is one of them for the second straight season.
He doesn’t take the distinction lightly.
“Being elected captain is always one of the greatest honors I have ever received as a player,” Humphries said Friday after a short training session for the Cardinals at their facility. The team travels to Nashville to open the season against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
“As an offensive lineman, I have never received an award or been in contention for a Heisman or anything like that. But to be recognized as someone who does well by my peers, the guys I sweating, it’s something that… my guys I sweat with voted for me, it’s something I’m going to tell my grandchildren. I don’t care what happens in my career, I have been a captain for two years in a row.
“This is something that no one can ever take away from me.”
Humphries never envisioned himself as an NFL captain, he admitted. He just wanted to work hard and reach the league and become a good player. But along the way, he’s grown into a veteran leader.
Humphries was asked what his veteran would tell his rookie if he could give advice on growing, working and respecting his teammates to become captain of the Cardinals.
“Stay the course,” he said, citing current and former teammates he considered a first-round pick in 2015, including Frostee Rucker, Corey Peters, Jermaine Gresham, Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson.
It was Gresham, a former Arizona tight end, who told him to stay the course.
“You have to go through the bumps and bruises. Not everything can be gentle on you. And I think that’s something that I wish I could have listened to a little bit louder, it’s just staying focused, don’t worry. not that much of what’s being said, just know what you can do, ”Humphries said.
Gardeck out for week 1
Cardinals linebacker and special teams star Dennis Gardeck, another captain, was injured in training Thursday and will not play in Tennessee on Sunday, head coach Kliff Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury has indicated Gardeck, who was on the official injury report with a hand injury, could miss more than a week.
“He’s a little depressed, but hopefully it won’t be too long,” Kingsbury said. “We’re going to err on the side of caution. It might be more of a blessing in disguise to really let him heal over the next two weeks and then we’ll get him back.”
Gardeck needed ACL surgery in January and it was initially believed he would not be ready for the start of the season. But he was cleared to train on Aug. 23 and returned to the field, and trained fully on Wednesday as he put his knee back on strength.
Watt on the “not” account?
Kingsbury would not engage in the idea that defensive lineman JJ Watt is on an instant count after spending much of the preseason on the injured list with a hamstring injury.
“We’re going to see how it goes. He looks good conditioned, he looks great. But we want to maximize him. It’s a long season and we’re going to be smart. We’re going to play that out. ‘ear as the game progresses,’ Kingsbury said.
Alford healthy and ready
Cardinals cornerback Robert Alford has managed a training camp and preseason without any major injuries, and for the first time since the 2018 season, he’s ready to play Game 1.
“It means everything. I’ve been injured for the past two years so just finishing camp and getting to Week 1 was important to me,” Alford said. “It’s a blessing at the end of the day, and I’m ready to roll on Sunday.”
Alford, 32, suffered a season-ending chest injury last August. In 2019, a leg injury derailed this season, months after signing with the Cardinals in free agency.
Recently, Alford spent time on the Reserve / COVID-19 list before being activated last week.