The Arizona Cardinals’ defensive line will have a different look in 2017 because a former stalwart is no longer with the team.
So, with Calais Campbell’s departure to the Jacksonville Jaguars after nine seasons in the Valley, many are wondering what the team will do to replace him.
Naturally, many feel like Robert Nkemdiche, the team’s first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, will step up and fill the void.
Nkemdiche had a disappointing rookie campaign, being active for just five games and recording three total tackles. A guest of Off the Edge with B-Train on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station Monday, Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner said any breakout 2017 from Nkemdiche will come only if the defensive lineman steps up.
“A coach can give you everything: the tools, the knowledge, the drills, watch film with you, even tell you what’s going to happen,” he said. “Until that button is switched in you to say, ‘Alright, I’m going to react and I’m going to let my natural ability kick in,’ it can become an uphill battle.”
Buckner said his goal is to prepare Nkemdiche to be in the best place possible both mentally and physically so that when the time comes, he will be comfortable and ready to make an impact.
To Buckner, it’s not about effort.
“With him, he works hard, does everything, but now I just hope the game begins to feel special to him,” he said.
Essentially, Buckner said Nkemdiche needs to understand that if he does not play up to the standard they want, he will not make it onto the field.
“Because our D-line group, we owe it to everybody else on this team to make…
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