Former Cardinals 1st-round pick Robert Nkemdiche has ‘newfound respect’ for NFL

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Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, the Arizona Cardinals’ first-round draft pick in 2016, was one of their most disappointing picks in recent history. He dealt with injuries, mental mistakes on the field, bad practice habits and off-the-field issues. After tearing his ACL, he showed up to training camp in 2019 overweight and out of shape.

It led to his release. He played two games with the Miami Dolphins and logged no stats in 16 snaps and was not on a team after that until he signed with the Seattle Seahawks this offseason.

Nkemdiche appears to have changed his attitude toward the game of football and has a second chance to make it in the league.

“I have a newfound respect for the game, because I got to be away from it, so I’m probably overly excited, a lot more excited than these guys who have been out here,” Nkemdiche told reporters after Wednesday’s minicamp practice, via Seahawks Wire. “I never want the opportunity to be taken away again. I’ve been away from the game for some time, so I’m just so happy to have the opportunity to have the ball in my court.”

For Cardinals fans, those words might not sit well because he had a chance and the thought of him turning things around with a division rival is maddening. However, even his former teammates hope he gets another shot.

Corey Peters said last offseason he hoped Nkemdiche would get another shot.

“One thing about Robert, Robert is a good guy, a great guy, a person you want to have as a friend, but he has to grow up some,” Peters said last year. “People warned him about what was coming and what would happen.

“I talked to him recently and now I think that he has a better understanding and he seems to be working hard and doing things to make amends and trying to get back into the league. I hope he gets another opportunity.”

Nkemdiche now has that opportunity. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll thinks “he’s going to be a factor.”

It will be great for him if he can become even a fraction of the player he has the talent to be. It won’t make Cardinals fans feel better, though.

May he make the Seahawks and play well, except for the two games the Cardinals face him.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

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