TEMPE, Ariz. -- If anyone in the Arizona Cardinals locker room doesn’t know his role heading into Monday night’s game against the San Diego Chargers, Bruce Arians said his door is open. He’ll be “real straight” about what he wants.
Arians shouldn’t expect to see linebacker Thomas Keiser.
Keiser, who the Cardinals were awarded off waivers from San Diego on Sunday, knows exactly why the Cardinals wanted him -- to rush the passer.
“I was brought in for that reason,” Keiser said. “I have that skill set, so it’s a matter now of learning the system and going out there and playing fast and reacting fast. This is the situation I wanted to be brought into, pass rushing.
“I couldn’t ask for more. It’s a matter of picking up the system and getting after it.”
The undrafted free agent had 4.5 sacks last season and has nine over his three-year career.
While he’ll need to learn the scheme, his understanding of Todd Bowles’ defense won’t make or break his ability to hit the quarterback.
“There is a specific skill set you need to have to be a good pass rusher, but the scheme and things of that nature can dictate a lot of your production,” Keiser said. “At the end of the day, can you win one-on-one matchups? That’s the most important thing, and I can win one-on-one matchups. They know that, and at this point I know I’m going to have that opportunity. You just go out there and make the most of it.
“Some weeks you go out there and you have a ton of one-on-ones, other weeks none. It’s always being prepared and being ready for whatever’s thrown at you. You have to make the most of it no matter what the scheme is.”
Keiser looks at himself as a speed rusher who can switch to a power rush when needed. He’d prefer to use his speed, however, to beat tackles around the edge.
The Stanford product impressed his teammates during his first practice with the Cardinals Tuesday. There was a buzz about how hard he worked, drawing comparisons to Sam Acho.
Like Acho, Keiser is one of six outside linebackers the Cardinals have on their roster. Arians said Keiser was claimed because he could potentially contribute immediately, compared to a sixth wide receiver, who’d likely be inactive on game days.
Arians has watched Keiser the last two preseasons and was impressed enough to make a run at the 25-year-old when he was released. Last Thursday in San Diego, Keiser sacked rookie Logan Thomas, forcing a fumble.
“He’s played real well against us for two years now,” Arians said. “He’s a very active guy.
“When we were looking through the wire, it was a debate whether to keep six receivers who would be inactive versus a guy who could possibly play right away. So, it was easy to take the linebacker.”
The linebacker will face his former team Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium on national TV in a situation that’s as similar to a baseball player getting traded in between a double-header as it gets in football.
On Thursday, he was doing the sacking for the Chargers.
On Monday, he’ll be trying to sack Philip Rivers.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Keiser said. “I’d be happy no matter who I’m playing, but playing San Diego, it’ll be cool for sure.”