Jermaine Gresham wants to augment Cardinals’ potent offense
May 25, 2017, 1:08 PM | Updated: May 26, 2017, 9:20 am
(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
TEMPE, Ariz. — Cardinals coach Bruce Arians offered a simple job description for his tight ends when asked after Wednesday’s practice.
“Block and catch,” he said.
Jermaine Gresham laughed out loud when he heard that one.
“He gave you that [Gregg] Popovich answer, huh?” Gresham said, smiling. “They’re in the same category.”
Gresham doesn’t hear the same job description when Arians addresses him.
“No,” he said. “We get a couple more cuss words in there, but we get much respect in between them, too.”
The easiest way for Gresham to earn Arians’ and his teammates’ respect is to block for David Johnson and the Cardinals’ other running backs.
“You can’t hide from that,” Gresham said. “You can’t be soft and play tight end here. We’re not going to be the guys that are running around, flashing in the passing game and getting called the best tight ends in the league, but you don’t block nobody and your running back runs for 400 yards. We’re going to put our head in there. We’re going to go for 3rd-and-1s.
“I love it. That’s football to me.”
Arians insists he is happy with Gresham’s contributions.
“Jermaine is a war daddy,” Arians said. “You cannot run the football without good tight ends.”
If that’s all the Cardinals ever ask of him, Gresham insists he is content. Arizona signed the seven-year veteran to a four-year, $28 million deal in March, with $16.5 million in guaranteed money and $13 million fully guaranteed at signing.
“I’m just grateful for the opportunity they gave me,” he said.
Gresham took less to stay the year before, and the Cardinals rewarded him after he caught 37 passes for 391 yards and two TDs, while asserting himself as one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL.
With two years under his belt in Arizona, however, Gresham would like to add more to Arizona’s offense, which finished sixth in the league in points per game at 26.1.
“If I catch more balls, I’m truly grateful for that opportunity and I’m working towards that, but if they just need me blocking more and being more consistent in the blocking game and we’re winning games — when you win everything feels better,” Gresham said. “You have to take into consideration that this offense has been a pretty good offense the past few years. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“I’m just trying to find my niche, find my place in it without slowing it down. Hopefully, I can bring more to it and broaden the horizon of what we have been doing.”
Gresham said the time he has invested in the offense has provided a greater comfort level.
“It’s BA’s offense; nothing is ever easy about it,” he said. “With the complex defenses you are facing you’ve got to match it. He’s not going to make it easy on them because defenses aren’t getting any simpler to read.
“But my comfort level is through the roof. Just getting reps and just having years in it now and just getting accustomed to everything has totally made a night-and-day difference. As you get further along in this system, you react more than you think so then you’re able to fire on all cylinders and play as fast as you can. You’re a better player when you know what’s going on.”
If injury-prone Troy Niklas can finally stay healthy, Arians sees greater possibilities for the tight end position than in any season since he arrived. Gresham agreed there is much more room for growth, especially with himself.
“There’s no limit in it,” he said. “It’s really more about me, personally. I want to do more for the team to help them out and show my appreciation for what they did for me. I want to be a better player for the organization, my teammates and for my coaches.
“They treat you right here, from the owners all the way down to the training staff. They don’t cut corners. They treat you like a man. They don’t hold your hand through the process. They respect you and they give you a chance to make the right decisions. I said it before, but I’m truly grateful for that.”
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