Cardinals turn to running back by committee in Week 6 loss to Rams
Oct 15, 2023, 6:36 PM | Updated: 9:14 pm
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The big question entering the Cardinals’ Week 6 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams centered around what exactly would Arizona’s run game look like without starter James Conner carrying the load.
And if there was anything to glean in Conner’s first game on the sideline under the new regime, it’s that there’s going to be a lot of cooks in the kitchen until the starter returns to action or someone separates themselves from the competition.
Throughout Arizona’s 26-9 loss to the Rams, the Cardinals handed off the rock to five different rushers, three of which had at least seven carries on the afternoon.
Among the trio that got more run was backup Keaontay Ingram, whom returned to action Sunday after missing the past two games with a neck issue.
Ingram not only got the starting nod after logging a week of mostly limited work at practice, he also paced Arizona rushers in total carries (10) and trailed only quarterback Joshua Dobbs (47) in yards (40). Both of those mark career highs for the second-year pro out of USC.
Entering the week, the debate at running back centered around Ingram or Emari Demercado, especially after the former’s effort last week in place of Conner.
But following Demercado’s role reverting to third down and seeing just two carries for 11 yards and one catch for six yards, Ingram appeared to regain his spot atop the current pecking order inside the RBs room.
Damien Williams meanwhile was quickly integrated into the mix following his elevation from the practice squad the day prior. Seemingly opening up every other Cardinals drive with Ingram, Williams finished the afternoon with 36 yards on eight carries. He also caught a pass for eight yards.
“I thought they did a good job,” head coach Jonathan Gannon said postgame. “I thought all three of them made some plays in there, they ran hard, they were good in pass pro. What we were asking them to do was a little bit different this week. I thought they did well.”
“We had a plan with the number of snaps, certain plays and certain personnel groupings and down and distance predicated into that,” the head coach added. “I don’t know what the exact numbers were, but I like how (RBs coach Autry Denson) rotated them in there. What we said we wanted to do, we got done, especially in the flow of the game and how the game went.”
Speaking of Dobbs, the signal caller’s legs provided the chunk plays on the ground Sunday behind a pair of 20-yard scampers in the first half.
Unfortunately for Dobbs, it was tough sledding outside of those two runs, with the QB accumulating just three more yards on five carries.
One of his targets in Rondale Moore rounded out the ground attack with -4 yards on three carries.
Williams on the up and up?
The most intriguing factor to the Cardinals’ run game on Sunday was easily Williams’ usage having got to town just 10 days prior as a practice squad signing.
Despite the limited time on task, Williams looked comfortable in his role and could very well be in store for more moving forward as he gets more work with the coaching staff and his teammates.
It’s clear there’s trust already built up between Williams and the organization. Another week of practice could mean more touches moving forward until Conner returns.