Eno Benjamin earned Cardinals’ trust, self confident for bigger role Sunday

Oct 14, 2022, 9:30 AM

Justin Pugh #67 of the Arizona Cardinals lifts up Eno Benjamin #26 of the Arizona Cardinals after B...

Justin Pugh #67 of the Arizona Cardinals lifts up Eno Benjamin #26 of the Arizona Cardinals after Benjamin's touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals running back Eno Benjamin remembers jogging off the field early in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles expecting to be replaced for a breather.

But no one was there to tap him out, so Benjamin went back on the field and stayed there for the remainder of the drive.

“After that drive, I started looking around and asking, it was Mike Bercovici at the time, ‘Where’s Darrel? Where are the other running backs?,” Benjamin said on Thursday’s Big Red Rage. “That’s when he told me that they went down and then I was the only one up.”

Arizona’s backfield took on multiple losses last week as James Conner, Jonathan Ward and Darrel Williams left the game with injuries. Ward landed on injured reserve, while Williams and Conner are both expected to miss Week 6 against the Seattle Seahawks, according to reports. That sets up Benjamin for the bulk of the carries heading into a game for the first time in his NFL career.

Benjamin said he’s ready for the extra workload.

“I feel like that’s what practice is for, just straining a lot and finishing runs,” Benjamin said. “The one thing that you can’t always practice is practicing beating in the last defender in a real game. So practice is where we use that for straining just to condition and get that up and be ready to go.”

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has praised Benjamin’s offseason showing and the growth in the third-year back’s preparation. Perhaps no other player on the team stood out more during offseason workouts.

Kingsbury left Benjamin off the active roster every week during the former Arizona State Sun Devil’s rookie season in 2020.

From that point, Benjamin had to gain the trust of his coaches and teammates, something Kingsbury feels he has done.

“This is his opportunity, we have all the faith in the world that he’ll go out and give us everything he’s got,” Kingsbury told reporters this week. “I’ve been impressed with what he’s done. Like I said, over the last couple years, the improvement and maturity shown has really been impressive.”

Benjamin admitted he wasn’t where he needed to be with his game or preparation to be effective as a rookie. But Benjamin saw an opportunity in Arizona and said he developed a new focus.

The 23-year-old stated his confidence grew last year getting his first NFL chances on the field, knowing the playbook and spending time with quarterback Kyler Murray to build trust.

Benjamin made the most of his carries down the stretch of Week 5, as his 11-yard touchdown run with 9:43 remaining in the game led to the game-tying extra point.

On Sunday, the Cardinals are expected to run out a tailback group led by Benjamin and rookie Keaontay Ingram. Arizona also added running backs Corey Clement and Ty’Son Williams this week to the practice squad for depth.

“I definitely believe that I’ve got what it takes to be an every-down back here in this league,” Benjamin said.

Kickoff from Seattle is set for 1:05 p.m., barring a scheduling conflict with the MLB postseason.

The game will air on Arizona Sports 98.7.

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