Darrel Williams will emerge as the Cardinals number-two back

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Running back Darrel Williams has earned the right to be the Arizona Cardinals’ number-one option behind starter James Conner

The Arizona Cardinals have been telling anyone who would listen that there’s a wide-open vacancy at the team’s number-two running back slot.

Roughly a month ago, talented free agent Darrel Williams elected to sign with the Cards. The 27-year-old agreed to a one-year deal, and the squad suddenly had a capable backup for starter James Conner in place. Or do they?

There’s talk around Cardinals land that Williams may not have a stronghold on the job. Some believe that another ball carrier could emerge from a trio of backs, putting their own claim on the gig.

Arizona Cardinals will hold a competition for the number-two running back gig

As it stands, the main competition for Williams is Eno Benjamin, the third-year pro out of Arizona State University. In his nine total appearances for the Redbirds, the 23-year-old has amassed 160 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown.

Jonathan Ward, a former undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan University, has just 78 yards from scrimmage and one score on his NFL resume. One other possibility is Keontay Ingram, a sixth-round rookie out of USC whose next professional carry will be his first.

Williams, on the other hand, easily eclipsed all three of his competitors as a second-string back with the Kansas City Chiefs last season.

In the 17 games he dressed for (seven starts), the 5 foot 11, 219-pounder totaled 558 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Williams also flashed his skills as a pass-catcher, registering 47 receptions for 452 yards and another two scores.

If the coaching staff allows it to happen, Arizona could move forward with a one-two combination at running back in 2022 that could rival the impressive duo they fielded last fall.

Conner and the now-departed Chase Edmonds certainly put fear into opposing defenses in 2021, but the rushing attack could be even better now that Williams has flocked to the desert.

The Cards’ acquisition of Williams could turn out to be one of the club’s most underrated moves of the offseason. Any talk of a competition for the backup running back role is hogwash.

The pairing of the ultra-productive Conner and the ready-for-primetime Williams will be worth the price of admission.

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