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NFL.com writer praises Arizona Cardinals for reconstruction of pass rush

Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, right, a first round draft pick from Mississippi, battles with offensive lineman Cole Toner, left, a fifth round draft pick from Harvard, during the team's NFL football rookie camp practice Friday, May 6, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Carpe Diem.

It means “seize the day.”

According to NFL.com writer Chris Wesseling, the Arizona Cardinals did just that in terms of reconstructing their pass rush — an element of their defense thought to be a weakness despite their trip to the NFC Championship Game last January.

Wesseling gave out his NFL Roster Reconstruction Awards for 2016, and gave the Cardinals the “Carpe Diem” Award.

The Cardinals are coming off their finest season since 1948, leading the NFL in points and yards per game. Carson Palmer owns the NFL’s best winning percentage (.870) since the start of the 2014 season, playing the best ball of his 12-year career. He’s 36 years old, though, tossing passes to Larry Fitzgerald, who is also entering the twilight years of a sterling career.

After watching the Cardinals pressure Cam Newton on a season-low 20.7 percent of dropbacks in their season-ending loss, Arians and general manager Steve Keim prioritized finding a blue-goose pass rusher this offseason. Keim promptly traded for Pro Bowl edge rusher Chandler Jones while selecting talented defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche in the first round of the draft. If Palmer and Fitzgerald don’t reach the Super Bowl in the next two years, it won’t be for lack of front-office support. Arians and Keim understand it’s time to seize the moment.

The acquisition of Jones from New England was widely praised in NFL circles as it gives the Cardinals a premier edge pass rush threat. Since entering the league in 2012, Jones has 36 quarterback sacks, tied for the 11th-most in the league.

Nkemdiche, the 29th overall selection in the draft earlier this month, had seven sacks, 19 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hurries in his three-year college career.

Jones and Nkemdiche aren’t the only new pieces on Arizona’s defensive line. Veteran tackle Corey Peters is back from a left Achilles tendon injury that he suffered in training camp last summer.

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