One of the bright spots for the Arizona Cardinals in the team's 26-23 preseason loss to the Tennesse Titans has to be rookie outside linebacker Cameron Thomas.
In the first quarter, quarterback Malik Willis and the Titans offense started off sluggishly and picked up only two first downs in the first quarter. During that span, Thomas posted two sacks and four quarterback hits.
His first sack was a result of good pass coverage, which led to him beating the right tackle and tackling Willis for a three-yard loss on second-and-12.
While it was simply the preseason, it was also the third-round rookie's first coming-out party in the NFL.
"It was just fun tonight, you know," Thomas told reporters after the game. "I think everyone went out there and played their absolute hardest. Unfortunately, (we) didn't come up with a win. We played our butts off."
Willis ended up totaling 167 yards of offense in the first two quarters. He completed 12-of-16 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown while running for 79 yards on four carries.
Still, head coach Kliff Kingsbury was impressed with Thomas' efforts and has witnessed his improvement each week.
"It seems to slow down for him each and every practice," Kingsbury told 98.7 FM Arizona's Sports Station after the game.
The Cardinals are heading into the 2022 season without Chandler Jones, the team's franchise all-time sack leader. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will be looking for pass-rushing production from anyone who can deliver at any given moment.
Thomas was drafted in the third round out of San Diego and Cincinnati's Myjai Sanders was picked later in the same round. Both are expected to get some run on the outside, with Markus Golden heading the edge rushing group.
Arizona will have decisions to make as rosters trim from 80 to 53 players by Tuesday. Thomas was asked what it's like as a rookie to not know if his teammates will be around in a few days.
He said, "I really haven't thought much about it. There are business decisions to be made and a lot of them are made along the way."
Other than Sanders and Golden, Thomas will compete for playing time in the regular season with outside linebackers Dennis Gardeck and Devon Kennard as well as possible roster-bubble candidates Victor Dimukeje and Jesse Luketa.
Thomas is feeling good about his body of work.
"I went out there every day and put my best foot forward," Thomas said. "I just try to play as hard as I (can) every single day. However the cards fall out, they fall out. I'm really looking forward to how it shakes out."