New number, new me: Cards RB Chase Edmonds ready for 2021 workload
Jun 3, 2021, 1:17 PM
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals practice field was filled with new jersey numbers during the team’s first voluntary OTAs session on Wednesday.
While some represented the team’s offseason additions, a number of returning Cardinals decided to change things up in 2021, one of those being running back Chase Edmonds.
It’s a symbolic move for the rusher, who enters his fourth NFL season in line for a starting role.
“It felt really good to put on that No. 2,” Edmonds said Wednesday. “I kinda like being called Deuce, that’s kinda where my roots were at Fordham. It’s just something where it was kind of a mental thing for me, I wanted to distinct myself from my first three years. I’m really trying to take that next step as a man and as a player this year.”
Despite Edmonds sitting behind the likes of David Johnson and Kenyan Drake, the scatback carved out a nice role in his first three seasons as a Cardinal, especially in 2020.
In 16 games last season, Edmonds recorded 448 yards on 97 carries, both career highs. He scored two touchdowns.
Edmonds also stepped up his game as a receiver, reeling in 53 receptions for 402 yards and four touchdowns, all career marks. Edmonds is hoping to continue his ascent as a pass catcher.
“One thing I’m still always trying to strive at is just my ability outside the backfield,” Edmonds said. “I feel like that’s something where I can kinda distinct myself as a different type of playmaker just around the NFL, especially as a running back.
“I feel like when you can really account outside of the backfield receiving, it adds a whole other dimension to your team and your ability as a player and what you offer the teams.”
While Edmonds will be asked to carry the workload on the ground much more in 2021, he’ll likely split time with offseason addition James Conner.
It’s unknown how the offensive-minded Kliff Kingsbury plans to utilize the duo — it’s something they’re working through — but the head coach is eager to see the pairing in action.
“James brings a physical, downhill running attack. He’s been a proven tough-yard runner in this league since he got into it,” Kingsbury said. “The thing I like most about him and Chase is their approach to the game. They’re as serious as you can be out on that field, ultra competitors. They’re going to push each other and give us a real one-two punch that I think is really gonna help us this season.”
Conner joins a running backs room that also includes Jonathan Ward and Eno Benjamin. Ward managed to find a special teams role and secured a receiving touchdown last season, while Benjamin did not play in 2020.
They may not have gotten the looks, but Edmonds loves seeing the group’s hunger and approach to the game, because “a hungry dog always runs faster.”
The Conner addition means much more than just another running mate out of the backfield for Edmonds, who recently met up with the former Pittsburgh Steeler this past week ahead of OTAs.
“Everything in life, it’s so much bigger than football. Getting to know him as a man, getting to know his experiences, getting to know what he’s been through in his life,” Edmonds said when asked what he can learn from his new teammate.
“Obviously everyone knows his story (of beating Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in college), tremendous story, so really anything I can learn from James and kinda just pick each other’s minds. I’m sure it will happen as our relationship grows as friends and as teammates.”
But Conner isn’t the only new Cardinal Edmonds wants to learn from, as J.J. Watt and Rodney Hudson provide the running back with two more veteran voices.
It’s all part of Edmonds’ plan to become the best form of himself and best teammate.
“I’m just trying to be a guy that the young guys can come to, talk to, whatever it is,” Edmonds said. “Get them comfortable. It’s a very important season for us and we’re trying to do big things and we need all hands on deck so anything I can do. Growing up now being this is my fourth year, I try to do for the younger guys. And as well as the vets.”