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Passionate Jermaine Gresham Resonates

Posted Dec 30, 2016

Notes: Tight end's emotion, play welcome by Cardinals; Last practice; Minter, Johnson win awards

Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham makes a reception against the Seahawks last weekend.

It’s hard not to notice Jermaine Gresham on game days.

Sometimes, it hasn’t been for the best reasons – the tight end had a crucial penalty in Seattle that cost the Cardinals a field-goal try when “I kind of lost my emotions there for a minute” and took off his helmet – but mostly, Gresham’s intensity has been a powerful force in pushing the Cardinals the last few weeks.

“I just love what I do,” Gresham said. “I put my all into it.”

The Cardinals love what Gresham does too. His stats aren’t eye-popping – 37 catches for 391 yards and two touchdowns – but he’s been a much bigger part of the offense since midseason. Coach Bruce Arians often has raved about the job Gresham has done as a blocker, and acknowledges Gresham’s “passion and toughness.”

It’s that passion that catches everyone’s eye.

“He’s a physical specimen,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “He can block defensive ends, he can catch the ball and you’ve seen him run people over and stiff arm people. He just brings a fire and passion.

“He loves the game, he loves practice, he loves being out there and it’s contagious, especially on game days when there is a lull in the game or you’re tired at the end of a game. You just look at Jermaine and he’s bouncing around, fired up and blocking people and telling them about it. That intensity is contagious, and it rubs off on all of us.”

Gresham won’t credit himself for firing up the team – “That’s just me,” he said – but he does feel the emotion makes him a better player.

“It’s a pride thing,” Gresham said. “As a man, you pretty much want to be respected by your peers. That’s pretty much what I go out and play for.”

Gresham is scheduled to be a free agent after the season. Liked within the organization, the Cardinals want to bring him back. Gresham notably passed up a longer, more lucrative contract last offseason to sign a one-year, $3 million deal in Arizona.

He doesn’t want to leave now, either.

“(The offense) works, it’s proven,” Gresham said. “The guys here, they are very accepting. It’s pretty simple.”

AND THEN IT WAS OVER

The Cardinals had their last practice of the season Friday, although Arians said it felt like it was only “Week 2 or 3.”

“The season has flown by,” Arians said. “That’s a testament to our guys because they are so fun to work with, because they do show up to work and meetings and practice hard. That makes the game fun. The outcome wasn’t what we wanted in four or five Sundays, (and) that put us to where we aren’t playing next week.”

JOHNSON, MINTER TABBED FOR PWFA AWARDS

The Arizona chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association picked running back David Johnson as the recipient of the Lloyd Herberg MVP award for the 2016 season, while linebacker Kevin Minter took home the Steve Schoenfeld Good Guy Award.

Johnson has had arguably the best season for a running back in franchise history, setting team records for yards from scrimmage (2,074) and touchdowns (20) with one game still left to play. Minter was recognized for his availability, insight and professionalism for dealing with the media.

The awards are named after two former Cardinals beat writers for The Arizona Republic. Herberg covered the team from 1988 until 1994, when he died of cancer. Schoenfeld covered the NFL and the Cardinals from 1988 to 2000. He was killed by a hit-and-run driver in October of 2000.

NKEMDICHE A GAME-DAY DECISION; MOORE ADDED TO INJURY LIST

Arians said defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who didn’t practice Friday after hurting his ankle this week, is a game-day decision. Everyone else should be available for the Rams. Tackle D.J. Humphries (concussion) had already been ruled out of playing by Arians. Officially, wide receiver John Brown (sickle cell), cornerback Marcus Cooper (back/calf) and linebacker Sio Moore -- who was added to the report Friday as limited with an ankle problem -- are questionable.

For the Rams, wide receiver Kenny Britt (shoulder), tackle Rob Havenstein (ankle) and cronerback Lamarcus Joyner (ankle), none of whom practiced all week, are listed as doubtful. Wide receiver Michael Thomas (hip) is listed as questionable.

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