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Chase Edmonds ready if Kenyan Drake’s injury makes him lead RB

Running back Chase Edmonds #29 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the ball around linebacker Bobby Wagner #54 of the Seattle Seahawks in the third quarter of the game at State Farm Stadium on October 25, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Any time Chase Edmonds is asked about his offseason improvements, his answers touch on what happened starting in February.

About a month after the 2019 season ended, Edmonds hit the practice fields with teammates and close friends Christian Kirk and Trent Sherfield.

All three players, who fill roles on the Arizona Cardinals from starter to special teams ace, have expressed the same thing over the past several months: Those individual workouts prepared them for this season.

Edmonds sure appeared ready in his biggest opportunity yet this year. He rushed for 58 yards on just five carries and caught 7-of-7 targets for 87 yards Sunday night.

“Just a testimony to my hard work. I busted my ass this offseason, truly. From the start, before even COVID was beginning, I just kept working everyday,” Edmonds said after helping lead Arizona to a 37-34 overtime win against the Seattle Seahawks. “Me, Kirk, Trent, just working behind closed doors. You work like that for opportunities like this.”

Now, Edmonds faces the reality that he might be leaned upon more. And not just because he provides a different dynamic as a pass-catcher.

An ankle injury to running back Kenyan Drake could knock Arizona’s No. 1 back out if he’s not better following a bye this weekend, and then the Cardinals will have some questions to ask.

How much of a load can Edmonds take on, and who backs him up?

Edmonds has been utilized like a true bellcow just once in his career: in last year’s Week 7 game against the New York Giants.

While he rushed 27 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns, Edmonds only carried the ball nine more times combined in 2019. He injured his ankle after seven carries in the next game against the New Orleans Saints and was never the same.

The Cardinals traded for Drake, he burst onto the scene, taking snaps from Edmonds and David Johnson, and that was that.

If Drake misses extended time, there are unproven options on the roster behind Edmonds. Undrafted rookie Jonathan Ward has been active and readily used as a special teams player. He is the only big-bodied back on the roster after Drake at 202 pounds. At Central Michigan, he provided contributions in the passing game as well.

Also on the 53-man roster, rookie seventh-round pick Eno Benjamin, who has not been active for a game this year, is also an option.

Veteran D.J. Foster was activated from the practice squad injured reserve last Tuesday after he suffered a quadriceps injury in Week 1 and has familiarity in the system. Arizona clearly values him, having kept him around dating back to the Bruce Arians era in 2017.

“I’d say at this point it’d be a group effort. They all bring something unique,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said of his backup running back options. “I wouldn’t say there’s one that we’re leaning towards over the other two. We’ll have a competition for those guys and see who practices the best and take it from there.”

However serious Drake’s injury is — x-rays reportedly confirmed there was no break — Edmonds is the sure thing, a pretty good starting point for Kingsbury to gameplan around.

He spent all offseason preparing, after all.

“Obviously, I don’t want the opportunity to happen where K.D. goes down … but just to get that opportunity and seize it, is just a testimony to hard work pays off and you don’t know when your time’s gonna come,” he said.

“I work my ass off, day in, day off, (expletive), since February. Whatever happens, happens,” he added. “I’ll be ready to answer the bell, whatever it is, whatever my role is. Obviously we got a creative head coach in Kliff, and I’m sure he’ll find ways to get more people involved until we get K.D. back.”


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