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Cardinals rookie Chase Edmonds: Small RB, big chip on shoulder

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Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds doesn’t know what his future holds.

Likely, the opportunity to battle for a backup role behind starter David Johnson will be available to him. The fourth-round pick (134th overall) purposely went through only receiver drills at his pro day with the hopes of proving he could provide a skillset to enhance Arizona’s passing game, and his shiftiness already adds a different element.

Still, at 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds and out of an FCS program at Fordham, Edmonds knows the expectations aren’t exactly high despite his college resume that, before an injury during his senior season, looked like it could include the FCS all-time rushing record.

And he doesn’t care.

“I’m built for the underdog world,” Edmonds told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I remember being compared to certain high school running backs who they thought were going to make it to the NFL or make it to these certain levels and depths. They wouldn’t talk about Chase. I shut up, I kept working and — it was just an extra note that I took note of. I took note of everything, and I mean every single thing people said about me, every single critique.

“It’s no better feeling than proving people wrong, and then when you get to look back at ’em and laugh and say, ‘I told you I was going to do this.’ That’s my chip on my shoulder.”

Edmonds finished his college career with 5,862 rushing yards on 6.2 yards per carry. Known as a shifty back with breakaway speed, he remembers watching former Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy growing up.

As he learned more about the position, he’s come to appreciate Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, another threat on the ground and through the air.

“He’s about the same size as me but he runs behind his pads a lot more,” Edmonds told reporters at his introductory press conference on Thursday. “He runs like he’s 220 (pounds) but he’s only 208. He’s stellar, he’s versatile, he’s in and out of the backfield, he can catch and I really like his game.”

Edmonds has other influences.

His quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Fordham, Joe Davis, was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Cardinals’ Johnson when he was at Northern Iowa. Edmonds said he picked Davis’ brain about Johnson as he watched the Cardinals running back break out over the past three years.

“He’s a guy I’m so eager to learn from,” Edmonds said. “See what he does on and off the field, see how he takes care of his body, see how he studies film, anything I can do to become a good football player, I’m willing to do. I’m going to be in his hip pocket. Obviously, he’s a grown man so he’s probably going to tell me to slide off a little, but until he does, I’m going to be in his hip pocket.”

In Edmonds’ first two years at Fordham, he played under head coach Joe Moorhead, who left to become Penn State’s offensive coordinator in 2016.

Moorhead coached No. 2 pick Saquon Barkley over the past two seasons and his connection to Edmonds linked the two rookie running backs up — Edmonds and Barkley have even played the video game Fortnite together.

The decision by Moorhead, now Mississippi State’s head coach, to leave Fordham had Edmonds thinking about following the coach. But at that point, a conversation with his mentor helped him see that the NFL could be in his future, even if he remained at Fordham.

The chip on Edmonds’ shoulder remains, even as he enters the NFL with so much success in his past.

“I think my father’s upbringing (helped),” Edmonds said. “He just always said, ‘Whether you’re cleaning (expletive) out of a toilet or you’re a million-dollar doctor, you always do it to the best of your ability.

“That really stuck with me because no matter what I do in life, I’ll give it my all. And whatever happens, I can live with it.”

QUOTABLE

On how raising a daughter during college helped him grow up: “It made me mature. Quick. Again, you think about things you would have never thought about when you’re a college student. When your boys are going to spring break, I’m home babysitting. It’s just a sacrifice you got pay but it’s so worth it.”

On his skill at Fortnite: “I see so many NFL guys streaming and they getting like three kills and like they have all these followers and I’m like, bro. I’m over here getting 12 to 14 but nobody notices.”

On why Fortnite is a great game: “I think Fortnite brings back what gaming is about. That’s like the camaraderie with your boys, staying up 4 in the morning, scratching and clawing. You never seen so many guys get so intense.”