Cardinals rookie Nkemdiche is ‘doing well’ during OTAs

May 31, 2016, 1:32 PM | Updated: Jun 2, 2016, 11:19 am
Arizona Cardinals' Robert Nkemdiche waits his turn on the field during the team's NFL football rook...
Arizona Cardinals' Robert Nkemdiche waits his turn on the field during the team's NFL football rookie camp practice Friday, May 6, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — A little less than one month ago Cardinals coach Bruce Arians joked that the team’s first-round pick, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche out of Ole Miss, was perhaps playing a bit too hard for rookie mini-camp.

“He was killing people in walk-through and I had to slow him down; it’s a walk-through and he’s bench-pressing linemen already,” he said. “But yeah, he’s got great first-step quickness, all the things we thought we saw.”

Truthfully, the last month has not necessarily been the right time for the 29th overall pick in the draft to show his stuff. An imposing presence at 6-foot-4 and 296 pounds, he should be at his best when the pads are on and he is actually allowed to hit someone.

“You can get the job done, but you just can’t be as physical,” he said following Tuesday’s OTA practice, the first in the final week of such outings. “You can still make it work and work on technique, work on hand placement and work on moves.”

Arians said Nkemdiche is “doing well” so far, which is about all you should expect in terms of analysis given that Nkemdiche is not really allowed to do what he was drafted for. However, the 21-year-old said things are going great, noting he is taking things day-by-day as he gets used to his new playbook and teammates.

The playbook, actually, is the biggest challenge for the rookie, as he admitted it is a bit more complex than he anticipated.

“One time I came to see Coach Bettcher and on his board he had like 30 calls, and he said, ‘that’s what we’re going this week with,’ and I’m like, oh my God, I’m used to like 10, 10-12 plays. You really have to study.”

Nkemdiche said he has leaned on all of his fellow defensive linemen for help, adding they are all “great people” who want to see him succeed.

For that to happen, though, he said he needs to improve on the technical aspects of the game, like hand placement, hip flips and the pre-snap reads.

While there are certainly high expectations for Nkemdiche, he is like any rookie in that he may be talented, but there is a refinement his game will need before he can make the kind of impact people believe is in store.

Until then, though, he continues planning on using linemen as weights.

“Of course,” he said, with a smile. “Every day it’s my goal to be the most physical person on the field, and most aggressive, and bring the most energy.”

Even without pads, as is the case during OTAs?

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Regardless.”

Life Changer Loans

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals WR Marquise Brown looks on during training camp on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Glen...
Tyler Drake

Speeding arrest a learning moment for Arizona Cardinals’ Marquise Brown

Arizona Cardinals WR Marquise Brown spoke Wednesday for the first time since he was arrested for excessive speeding.
18 hours ago
DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 12: Jessie Lemonier #52 of the Detroit Lions gets set against the Denve...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Cardinals release linebacker Jessie Lemonier

The Arizona Cardinals released linebacker Jessie Lemonier, the team announced on Wednesday.
18 hours ago
Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 and wide receiver Marquise Brown #5 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrate a...
Tyler Drake

‘It’s just a natural connection’ for Cardinals’ Kyler Murray, Hollywood Brown

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and WR Hollywood Brown linked up for the first time in an Arizona uniform on Monday. The chemistry is still there.
18 hours ago
FILE - Green Bay Packers tight end Josiah Deguara, third from right, rides a young fan's bike as th...
Associated Press

NFL looks like old self entering 3rd season in COVID-19 era

The NFL is looking and acting like it's essentially back to normal going into its third season dealing with COVID-19.
2 days ago
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals notebook: QB Kyler Murray weighs in on fake Kyler Murray

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray gave his two cents on a certain impersonation from the rookie talent show.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill. (Tyler Drake / Arizona Sports)...
Kevin Zimmerman

Michael Bidwill looks forward to season, Cardinals’ helmets, Super Bowl LVII

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill has a bit to look forward to in the coming season.
2 days ago
Cardinals rookie Nkemdiche is ‘doing well’ during OTAs