ESPN: Kenyan Drake is most surprising Cardinals player at midway point

Nov 13, 2020, 12:01 PM
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (41) celebrates carrying the ball and running it for a ...

Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (41) celebrates carrying the ball and running it for a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake ran with a vengeance after getting dealt to Arizona from the Miami Dolphins midway through last season.

Rejuvenating the Cardinals’ running game, Drake rattled off eight touchdowns and 643 yards on 123 carries. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry in the final eight games of the season.

In 2020, however, Drake has been a shell of himself.

ESPN compiled a list of the NFL midseason surprises of the year for every team, good or bad. Drake made the cut for the Cardinals for not so positive reasons.

Drake was the fourth-highest-graded running back in the NFL from his debut with the Cardinals in Week 9 of the 2019 season through the end of the regular season. A league-high 34% of his carries went for a first down or touchdown over that stretch. It seemed like he had found a fit in Arizona’s offense, but the results this season have not been the same. Just 24% of his carries have gone for a first down or touchdown, and Drake has been a complete nonfactor in the passing game, with only seven receptions on 127 routes all year. At this point, it has become a 1A-1B situation with Chase Edmonds for the Cardinals at running back.

Through seven games played this season, Drake has ran the rock 119 times for 512 yards and four scores. His yards per carry have dropped from 5.2 to 4.3, and he hasn’t been used little as a pass catcher.

The running back’s mom even got on Drake for his slow start to the season, asking if he will “hit some holes today” ahead of the Monday Night Football matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. He did well in the Week 6 win, registering 20 carries for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and admitted he needed to fix his approach.

Adding to the woes has been Drake’s health. After leaving the team’s Sunday Night Football win over the Seattle Seahawks with an ankle injury, Drake was forced out of his revenge game against the Dolphins. His status is up in the air for Week 10’s matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

Luckily for Arizona, the team has a capable replacement in Chase Edmonds.

Through eight games played, the 5-foot-9 running back has put up 246 yards and and a touchdown on 54 carries (4.5 yards per attempt).

And while he’s designated as a running back, Edmonds has excelled in the receiving game. Hauling in 29 of his 35 targets, Edmonds amassed 240 yards and two scores. He’s averaging just over eight yards per catch.

Looking at the rest of the NFC West, the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive line revival, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jason Verrett’s improved play and the Seattle Seahawks’ upped usage of Russell Wilson also made ESPN’s midseason list.

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ESPN: Kenyan Drake is most surprising Cardinals player at midway point