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Cardinals Training Camp Location Preview: Running Back

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Will someone come out as a pioneer or will it be a committee?

This week, the AllCardinals staff dismantled each positioning group as the Arizona Cardinals begin training camp at State Farm Stadium. In this second look, we evaluate the running back unit.

turn their backs

Expected start: Chase Edmonds, James Conner

Backups: Jonathan Ward, Eno Benjamin

On Bubble Squad/Drills: Tavian Pfister and Khalafani Muhammed


The Arizona Cardinals are entering the 2021 season who will likely be looking for someone to take the top spot. 1 running backwards.

Last year, Kenyan Drake was the “highlighted linebacker” who handled the most chances of getting pregnant. In the 15 matches he played, he was powerful but not amazing. The year ended the 1,000-yard dash mark (955), and the infantrymen averaged four yards per attempt.

The lack of detonation from Drake led to Cardinals supporters and fanatics cheering Chase Edmonds for more running. 5.7 yards per touch dwarfs Drake 4.1. But it was clear that Drake would have handled the first two touchdowns and worked on the goal line, while Edmunds excelled in passing situations.

In the end, Drake outperformed Edmunds by only 54% to 46% on the season.

With Drake now in Las Vegas, Edmunds has the opportunity to prove he has to be the one who gets the bulk of the duties.

It’s now or never,” Edmonds told “I finally had my chance, really and real in fore of me, to play a very big role in this crime. It’s something I’ve been dying for, and praying for, since my first three years in the NFL. It looks like it’s never going to happen, but I finally got the This opportunity, and I have to make the most of it.”

If Edmunds wants to have nearly all the touches, he’ll need to beat the newly signed James Conner.

Conner is the more experienced to fall back on between the two, and his one-year deal suggests this season is also a year that proves it for the 26-year-old. Injuries have played a big role in why Conner’s numbers have plummeted in the former two seasons. The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t scared to let him go for a run again in the first round of this year’s Draft (Nagy Harris).

Behind these two starters, Jonathan Ward and Eno Benjamin will fight for the third series missions. Both players haven’t been factoring in the big scope of the season, so this may be the year one of them shows some flashes.

Next, Tavien Feaster and Khalfani Muhammad will need powerful camps if they are to make their way into the Cardinals’ plans for next season.

The pleasing

This is eerily similar to final year, but with Conner taking over Drake’s place. We know Conner could be a rattlesnake because that’s what he has been during the year of Le’Veon Bell.

He averaged 113 sparring yards with 13 whole touchdowns in just 13 games. Weighing in at 233 pounds, Conner has the potential to be the most fearless, run between hurdles that compliments Edmunds perfectly.

Last year Drake has been doing his best to get fit, but is really a stingy player who has to catch the ball in an begin space. Conner is the real deal, and he’s not scared to run through a brick wall.

Edmunds is a big play waiting to happen, and it seems to cut big yards at a time. He’s got some of the softest hands in the league, making him a legitimate weapon for finding the soft spot in the middle of the field, or the flawless outlet for a young quarterback.

Despite being only 5ft 9, he’s 210 pounds lighter than the Drake. He’s a big reason why he can handle the grueling grind of an NFL season even though he has a little frame.

No matter how they split their time, the pairing should be better than final season. Connor will be the thunder that hits you in the mouth, Edmunds is the lightning that might come off your side, taking a few ankles along the way.

Best Case: Mark Ingram / Alvin Kamara

not pleasing

Health is a major red flag for Connor. He has already had toe surgery this off season due to an injury that occurred off the field. Over the former three seasons, Conner has been limited to 36 routine season games.

It doesn’t sound that bad, but ask fantasy directors how they rank. There were many cases where he had to leave the match beforetime, or he resisted it and played very ineffectively.

We didn’t see Edmunds miss a game final year with injury, but he started taking more hits towards the end of the season. He left the Week 16 vs 49 match beforetime with a thigh injury. It makes one wonder if Edmonds gets 60% or more of the shots if he can handle it over the course of an entire season.

His chassis is fine if he’s the one changing the speed backwards, but is he powerful enough to be a bell cow?

That’s why anyone who wins a quarterback in the third series can be a key factor next season. There’s an almost 100% chance that Connor won’t play every game, and we don’t know if Edmunds can handle a bigger workload.

Worst case: Sonny Michelle / James White

Backfield start

Early indications are that Edmunds is the player who will have the most touches. With Conner’s health history, Edmunds should be the one to get 60% of the shots with Conner coming in about 40% of the time.

It appears Edmonds was on the alike page with quarterback Kyler Murray final season, so it’s safe to assume the connection could emerge in real life and in fantasy this year. If Conner can stay healthy for 80-90% of games, the Cardinals will have the aptitude to change their running style depending on the rival and the coverage thrown at them.

That should decrease running chances for Murray, who won’t feel like the best choice for capturing big yards on the ground anymore. And not being hit as much would be pleasing, too.

Lots of Q&A regarding the Cardinals’ backyard, but this duo should have a higher ceiling than final year if things burst down right.


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