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'He's been tremendous': Former Lions LB Devon Kennard makes impact with Cardinals

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

In one of the more surprising moves of the offseason, the Detroit Lions decided they no longer had a need for the services of linebacker Devon Kennard. A two-time captain and 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, the team released its co-leader for sacks from a year ago, one day after agreeing to terms with Jamie Collins back in March.  

Not surprisingly, Kennard wasn't on the market for long, agreeing to a three-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Born and raised in the Phoenix area, he's now providing a lift for his hometown team, which is off to a 2-0 start. 

Devon Kennard

"He's been tremendous," Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said during a call on Wednesday morning. "He was part of a huge goal-line stop in Week 1 on fourth-and-1 that really won the game for us. Great human being, great in the locker room. His work habits, his professionalism, all the things you want in a leader on your team."

Playing nearly 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps through two weeks, Kennard has tallied four tackles, two quarterback hits and a sack. 

In Arizona's Week 1 upset victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Kennard lined up on the right edge of the defense on a fourth-and-1 early in the second quarter. As the handoff went to running back Raheem Mostert, Kennard peeled off a block by tight end Charlie Woerner, sliding laterally to fill the hole and make the stop. 

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The Cardinals went on to win the game by four points. 

Unlike most players the Lions release, the team issued a statement following the decision to part with Kennard, thanking him for his contributions. That showed the impact he made in just two seasons with the franchise. 

“From the day he joined our organization in 2018, Devon exhibited an outstanding level of professionalism on and off the field," read the statement. "We would like to thank Devon for his contributions to the Lions organization over the last two years and wish him and his family the very best in the future.”

That likely did little to soften the blow and Kennard will get his chance to show his former team what they're missing when the Cardinals play the Lions this Sunday. 

"We couldn't be more pleased in what we've seen from Devon and I know he'll be excited about this game on Sunday," Kingsbury said.

Practice squad additions

The Lions announced the signing of offensive lineman Marcus Martin and wide receiver Joe Webb III to the team's practice squad. They fill the spots created when the Lions promoted Kenny Wiggins to the active roster this past weekend and released running back Jonathan Williams on Monday. 

Martin, a third-round pick out of USC in 2014, has spent time with four teams during his career. Listed at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds, he's started 24 games during his career and none since 2016.

Webb, 33, has had a unique, 11-year career where he's played quarterback, wide receiver and even returned kicks. He was most recently with the Houston Texans, but missed the 2019 season with a foot injury.