Jonathan Ward plays well during Cardinals preseason opener

(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

The third-year professional has thrown his hat into the ring to become the Arizona Cardinals number-two running back in 2022

When Chase Edmonds bolted for the Miami Dolphins back in March, the countdown was on for the Arizona Cardinals to find another talented handcuff for starting ball-carrier James Conner.

Free agent Darrel Williams signed with the Cards back in late May and emerged as the odds-on favorite to be the replacement for Edmonds. Over the last couple of weeks, however, it’s been third-year pro Eno Benjamin who has stood out the most at Arizona’s training camp practices.

Lost in the substitute running back discussion has been Jonathan Ward, a former undrafted free agent who joined the Cardinals back in 2020. The 24-year old hasn’t been considered a strong candidate for the number-two job, but Ward’s performance against the Cincinnati Bengals last Friday night may have garnered the team’s attention.

Running back Jonathan Ward is giving Arizona Cardinals a lot to think about

Ward was by no means spectacular, but the former Central Michigan University product did enjoy a solid outing during the Redbirds’ preseason opener in Cincinnati. The 6 foot, 202 pounder gained just 15 yards on six carries, but the pair of one-yard touchdown runs he tallied showed an impressive nose for the end zone.

Perhaps the most outstanding play of the game for Ward came in the first quarter, when he hooked up with third-string quarterback Trace McSorley on a 21-yard pass play. The Illinois native showed both blazing speed and shifty moves while navigating the delayed screen down to the Bengals 13-yard line.

Williams did not suit up for the clash with Cincinnati, which could be an indication that the 27-year old veteran is a frontrunner for the number-two spot on the Cards’ RB depth chart. Benjamin had a quiet evening, gaining 14 yards on five carries with a long run of seven yards. Sixth-round pick Keaontay Ingram was actually the leading rusher among the squad’s backs, totaling 27 yards and a score, and also adding another 18 yards on two receptions.

It would be quite surprising if Ward manages to leapfrog both Williams and Benjamin in his quest to become the primary backup behind Conner. For now, the Cardinals must ponder who they believe should be the winner of this intriguing competition. Stay tuned.

Next. The good and the bad of the Cardinals' preseason win. dark