The Arizona Cardinals offensive unit is heading into the 2020 campaign with an impressive group of youthful ball-carriers
Heading into the 2019 campaign, a boatload of questions surrounded the Arizona Cardinals running game. The word around football circles was that the offensive system being implemented by new head coach Kliff Kingsbury revolved heavily around the pass. Would it be possible for the Arizona ball-carriers to carve out a worthwhile role in an offense that was nicknamed the “Air Raid”?
The answer to that question was answered emphatically by the end of the season. When all was said and done, the Cardinals had finished with the NFL’s 10th-best rushing attack. It was a major improvement from 2018, when the club finished dead-last in the league in that category.
As good as that element of the offense was last fall, there are those who believe that it could be even more productive going forward. The Cards roster is currently stocked with some exciting young running backs, a contingent that has the talent to run roughshod over opposing defenses this year.
The undisputed leader of the group is Kenyan Drake, a former member of the Miami Dolphins who was acquired last October. Former starter David Johnson has been traded to the Houston Texans, a move which should expand the workload of the 26-year old Drake. The former third-round draft pick of the Dolphins is primed to put up huge numbers in his first full year with Arizona.
Drake’s number-one backup is Chase Edmonds, a third-year player who has flashed tremendous ability in his 29 career appearances. During a week-seven victory over the New York Giants last season, the 5’9, 205 pounder rumbled for 126 yards and three touchdowns. Drake will likely get the bulk of the touches for the Cardinals, but Edmonds will certainly be utilized in Kingsbury’s scheme as well.
The Cards were thrilled when local product Eno Benjamin was available during the seventh round of this past April’s draft. The former star halfback of the Arizona State Sun Devils could also work his way into the club’s gameplans. Benjamin racked up 3,492 yards from scrimmage and 31 scores during his three campaigns as a college athlete.
Another runner who will be vying for playing time with Arizona is D.J. Foster, a fifth-year pro who joined the organization in 2017. The 26-year old suffered a torn MCL and ACL in his knee in ’18, and was placed on the injured-reserve list with a hamstring issue last fall. The time that Foster has spent on the sideline obviously hasn’t fazed the Cardinals, who elected to sign the 6’0, 205 pounder to a new contract this past March.
Arizona’s stable of young backs is an impressive one. Drake will assume the role of the workhorse, but his understudies should also get in on the action. Don’t be surprised if Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” attack does even more of it’s damage on the ground in 2020.