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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Jun 12, 2012 - 5:21 pm

Rookie Kelemete catching up with Cardinals

Senio Kelemete participates in the Arizona Cardinals mini camp practice at the team's training facility in Tempe. (Photo: Craig Grialou/Arizona Sports)

There's one thing you can say about Arizona Cardinals rookie offensive guard Senio Kelemete:

He's patient.

The fifth-round pick stayed in Seattle to finish up his degree in American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington while the rest of his Cardinals teammates were going through OTAs in Tempe.

It paid off. Kelemete became the first member of his family to earn a college degree.

But now with the academics taken care of, Kelemete can concentrate on football. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder participated in his first practice as a professional Tuesday at the team's training facility in Tempe.

"I'm really happy to be here," Kelemete said. "Being back at home and finishing up school was kind of hard. I was there, but my mindset was trying to be here, so I'm glad to to be back."

Kelemete was absent from all ten OTAs, so how much did the first-year player fall behind?

"A lot," head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It's not so much the scheme, that's hard enough, but when you go against our defense and what they do now for ten practices plus the 11th today, and you're seeing all the different looks, the stunts and the gap pressures, it's hard to look at it on film and understand what's going on.

"It's going to be a little bit of a learning curve for him."

Kelemete has shown the ability to get caught up to speed in new situations. After playing on the defensive line in his first two seasons at UW, he made the switch to the offensive line, where he started 26 consecutive games at left tackle for the Huskies, earning second team All-Pac- 12 recognition as a senior.

"I'd say if they give me two or three more days, I think I'd catch up," he said. "I know definitely over the weekend, I'm going to be in my playbook trying to catch up with everyone."

Arizona Sports' Craig Grialou contributed to this report


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