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RB Chase Edmonds doing more with less for Arizona Cardinals

Chase Edmonds #29 of the Arizona Cardinals runs the balls during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on October 6, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Just as the Arizona Cardinals might have found personnel and run-pass balance to give the wheels to their season a little downhill momentum, Week 6 could throw a stick into the spokes of that wheel.

Running back David Johnson watched his team practice and is listed as DNP on the injury report Wednesday as Arizona prepares to play the Atlanta Falcons.

The Cardinals got the best of Johnson last Sunday in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals, but the complementary pieces of Kyler Murray’s rushing abilities and the dynamic play from backup running back Chase Edmonds shined, too.

Arizona rolled up 266 rushing yards, the most the team had produced in a game since November 2011.

Johnson might be a gametime decision against Atlanta, but regardless, the Cardinals expect to see a healthy dose of Edmonds.

He rushed eight times for 68 yards Sunday against Cincinnati, adding three catches for 18 yards. His 27 offensive snaps were a season high and an uptick from the 10 he saw in Week 1 against Detroit or the nine in Week 3 while facing Carolina.

“It’s a nice switch-up,” Murray said of Edmonds. “For me personally, I know I can count on him. He wants to be great. He doesn’t take it for granted.

“Anybody you can count on, you know, that I could go to war with this guy, you’re going to feel good about him when he’s on the field.”

Since Edmonds arrived after Arizona drafted him in the fourth round a year ago, he had a crystal clear goal of how to earn playing time.

Work hard, learn the playbook for his position and beyond, and work on his receiving skills.

His advanced pass-protection abilities stood out for such a diminutive running back, and last year, then-fellow rookie Josh Rosen, the since-traded quarterback, suggested that Edmonds was smarter within the system than either Rosen or the team’s rookie center, Mason Cole.

Edmonds’ goal all along was to force the Cardinals to play him, regardless of how well Johnson plays or how many receivers, tight ends and other running backs Arizona attempts to build around.

“I try to just have the same approach every week,” Edmonds said. “I just kind of have a saying of, you know, do more with less. Where it’s five carries, three carries, one or seven, just find a way to do more with it.”

He did that against Cincinnati, a game which included a 37-yard touchdown burst on a lateral.

“It felt great, man,” Edmonds said of his run. “It was good for my confidence.”

The running game for Arizona came as the personnel groupings took a dramatic shift. Of the 10 times Arizona has used both Johnson and Edmonds in the backfield so far in 2019, five of those plays came this past Sunday.

The Cardinals ran 51 plays (72% of the snaps) with at least one tight end in the game and 21 of those included two — a sharp departure from the 10 personnel grouping of no tight ends and four wideouts head coach Kliff Kingsbury used in the first four weeks of the year.

The extra blockers, presumably, helped the backs. Edmonds credited two pulling guards, receiver Larry Fitzgerald, plus tight end Maxx Williams for springing him on his long touchdown run.

Kingsbury said Edmonds’ increased role “should continue.”

How much Arizona’s tight end usage could decrease next week is a question with receivers like Christian Kirk and Damiere Byrd making progress with their respective injuries that kept them out in Week 5.

Regardless of what happens, Edmonds will keep forcing the Cardinals to find ways to use him. He was asked Wednesday about an apparent quote that speaks to his readiness to do more with less.

“If I had eight hours to chop a tree down, I’d spend like the first five or six sharpening the ax,” Edmonds said. “(Former Fordham coach Joe Moorhead) loved that damn quote every single time.”

It seems Edmonds has heeded it well.

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