Kingsbury: All 5 Cardinals running backs earned their spot on the roster
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury did not go into training camp expecting his team to keep five running backs on the active roster when cuts came around.
However, the second string running back spot became a position battle without a clear loser.
Kingsbury told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke ahead of Sunday’s season opener that Eno Benjamin, Keaontay Ingram, Jonathan Ward and Darrel Williams all earned roster spots behind James Conner.
He frankly stated that the Cardinals did not want to give any of them up, and thus they avoided placing any of them on waivers.
“All those guys came in and did a tremendous job throughout camp,” Kingsbury said Tuesday. “We felt like with how it’s gone with that position the last couple years here, having those types of numbers was good for us.”
The Cardinals had a banged up backfield in the second half of the 2021 season with Chase Edmonds missing five games and Conner being sidelined for a pair.
General manager Steve Keim joined Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo Friday and was asked who the RB2 is.
He singled out Benjamin as someone who will get opportunities, which is consistent from the preseason when Benjamin started in the backfield. But, keeping five gives Arizona options with looks and depth in case of injury.
“There’s a number of those guys who can step in and do a good job,” Keim said. “You have to be able to step up to the plate and be able to answer the bell and not only do things in the passing game, the run game but also on special teams.”
Special teams was a key for the Cardinals keeping five. Ward has been a prominent player on coverage teams over his first two NFL seasons, and Ingram got his reps with the unit during the preseason and training camp.
That may be their path to being dressed on game day.
Last year in Week 1, the Cardinals dressed three running backs, including Ward for special teams.
Keim said Conner, who signed a three-year deal to stick around this offseason, will carry the load, something he had to do for much of the second half of last season.
James Conner AGAIN. #RedSea
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2021
But, the general manager said keeping five running backs will benefit the team.
“We’ll have some other players that can step in and do some different things,” Keim said.
Kingsbury stated that he intends to maximize the backups.
The Cardinals’ depth chart on the team website has Benjamin and Williams sharing the second string spot with Ward third and Ingram fourth.
Arizona hosts the Kansas City Chiefs for the season opener Sunday at 1:25 p.m.
Tune in on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.