ARIZONA CARDINALS

‘Disruptive’ Robert Nkemdiche makes an impact in win over Raiders

Aug 12, 2017, 11:12 PM | Updated: Aug 13, 2017, 9:05 am

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Everything that happens in preseason must be noted with an asterisk, but what Robert Nkemdiche has done through two games has warranted some attention.

The second-year pro, who was a non-factor as a rookie in 2016, has performed well in two outings, seeming to validate the quality play he has displayed during training camp practices.

In Arizona’s 20-10 win over the Oakland Raiders at University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday, the defensive lineman was a force, finding his way into the backfield while also working his way down the line for tackles.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he could not give a full report or grade on linemen in the game, needing to check out the tape to get a true idea of how the guys in the trenches fared.

Yet, he noticed Nkemdiche.

“He was disruptive — I saw him in the backfield a few times,” Arians said.

In the end, Nkemdiche was credited with three total tackles, solid numbers in a limited amount of work.

“I feel like I was getting off and shedding blocks and trying to be as disruptive as possible,” Nkemdiche said of his outing.

The tone surrounding Nkemdiche could not be more different this season compared to last, when most of the questions revolved around him not playing or, when he was on the field, failing to make an impact.

The given reasons for his struggles varied, with his maturity being questioned while he battled an ankle injury, but as of now his arrow appears to be pointing up.

Not surprisingly, this is more enjoyable.

“It’s fun, honestly,” he said. “Healthy and I just feel like I can do what I need to do and keep improving.”

Nkemdiche said being healthy is huge, because “when you’re playing with a bum tire you can’t really roll like you want to, but when you’re healed and you can go, you’re more confident in what you can do, physically and mentally.”

He looks like a different player, though that’s not to say he does not see room for improvement. While getting into the backfield on running plays was great, Nkemdiche said he would like to improve at getting to the quarterback, working through the rush lanes.

“Just playing with my hands and consistently doing what you’re asked on the defense,” he said. “Just playing more monotonous and doing the little things right.”

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Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) watches from the sideline during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Oakland Raiders running back DeAndre Washington (33) is hit by Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (90) and linebacker Josh Bynes (45) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Oakland Raiders running back John Crockett (43) is hit by Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (36) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Oakland Raiders running back John Crockett (43) scores a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes defends during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquis Bundy (18) is hit by Oakland Raiders defensive back Anthony Cioffi (37) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert (7) scrambles against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 20-10. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, right, greets Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio after an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 20-10. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski (11) leaves the field after an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 20-10. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, left, talks with Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio prior to an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu warms up prior to the team's NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Brittan Golden (10) pulls in a touchdown pass as Oakland Raiders cornerback David Amerson and free safety Reggie Nelson (27) defend during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch walks along the sidelines prior to the team's NFL preseason football game agains the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Brittan Golden (10) celebrates his touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) is hit by Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Cory James after throwing a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws under pressure from Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Cory James (57) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) carries the ball during the first half of the team's NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski (11) watches his missed field-goal attempt during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald hugs teammate Brittan Golden (10) after Golden scored a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Oakland Raiders running back DeAndre Washington (33) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas (87) pulls in a touchdown pass as Oakland Raiders strong safety Karl Joseph (42) defends during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) throws for a touchdown as Oakland Raiders linebacker Shilique Calhoun (91) closes in during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) An Arizona Cardinals fan cheers during the first half of the team's NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Markus Golden (44) celebrates a defensive stop with Robert Nkemdiche (90) against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas (87) is hit by Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Cory James (57) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Oakland Raiders wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) runs as Arizona Cardinals strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) defends during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) and Marshawn Lynch talks on the sideline during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio watches during the first half of the team's NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) is hit by Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Cory James (57) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) carries teh ball as Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquel Lee (55) pursues during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski sits on the bench after missing a field-goal attempt against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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