There are caveats all around, from the fact he was going against non-starters on the offensive line to the fact he has fresh legs considering he has missed so much time in camp because of his ankle sprain. But Wednesday, rookie defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche made quite the impression in one-on-one work.
It’s what everyone had been waiting to see since Nkemdiche was drafted, what was put on hold when he sprained his ankle badly back in QB School — before the team had even reported to training camp. Since then it had been a long wait. Coach Bruce Arians had said his No. 1 draft pick would be back out there Wednesday, and then the Cards instead got him in uniform Monday. That turned out to be less-than-exciting, because Nkemdiche did very little before ending his day early.
So (with Tuesday off), Wednesday again became a big day. This time, Nkemdiche was one to watch. He worked in 11-on-11 plays, locking up with 2015 No. 1 pick D.J. Humphries a couple of times. But it was when the Cardinals broke into one-on-one drills that caught many eyes, including mine. He was so quick off the ball, you understood the ankle certainly isn’t a problem anymore. He followed up with a great spin move too. (The video can be seen with this tweet.) We still have a couple of days to go, but right now I’d expect Nkemdiche to get his first preseason game work Sunday in Houston.
One practice — one drill, for that matter — does not make a player. Nkemdiche still has things to prove and learn. But as Arians said the other day, as long as he knows what gap to be in, he’ll be able to contribute. And he put on display for the first time Wednesday what his ability could mean.
Tags: D.J. Humphries, Robert Nkemdiche
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