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Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury to be ‘smart’ with Kenyan Drake in Week 1

Running back Kenyan Drake #41 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates after scoring on a five yard rushing touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake may be out of his walking boot and back practicing, but that doesn’t mean the flood gates are fully open just yet.

Joining Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury spoke on the running back and where the team’s at in measuring his workload in the season opener against the defensing NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers.

“We’ll see. He looks good so far,” Kingsbury said. “We’re going to be smart, it is Week 1, but I like what I’ve seen so far. Chase [Edmonds] has done a really nice job as well just how he did last year, so we feel we have two really viable options there. We’ll be smart with Kenyan.”

Eyes have been on Drake’s status since the RB was seen in a walking boot on Aug. 24. Despite the appearance, Kingsbury called the boot precautionary, while Drake added he was good to go and there’s “no worries.”

Joining the Cardinals via a midseason trade last season, Drake racked up eight touchdowns and 643 yards on 123 carries (5.2 yards per rush) in eight games. He also snagged 28 receptions for another 171 yards (6.1 yards per reception).

If Drake is hindered to the point where his usage is down, Kingsbury sounds confident in third-year back Chase Edmonds.

Last season, Edmonds showed signs he could carry the load if called upon. With then-starter David Johnson dealing with an injury last season, Edmonds took over the reins in Week 7, posting three scores and 126 yards on 27 carries in the team’s 27-21 victory over the New York Giants.

Edmonds has seen exactly 60 carries in each of his first two seasons. He was much more efficient in Kingsbury’s offense than he was under the Steve Wilks regime, however, averaging 5.1 yards per carry last year compared to 3.5 in 2018.

The running back also did more with less in the receiving game. Catching 12 balls for 105 yards and a score in 2019, Edmonds averaged 8.8 yards per reception. He averaged 5.2 yards just a year prior.

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