Former Arizona State halfback Eno Benjamin did not get a ton of chances to impress his new team, the Arizona Cardinals, this offseason.
He had no preseason, no mini camp or OTAs. Training camp practices were the only time for him to shine on the field. With the team needing to cut its roster from 74 to 53 last weekend, Benjamin's nerves were in affect.
"At first, there were initial worries," Benjamin said via Zoom on Monday. "I was getting no news, so I guess at the end of the day, no news is good news. That's the way I found out. After that 1 p.m. cut off line hit, I was relieved of some stress."
Benjamin was one of three running backs to make the Cardinals active roster along with Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds. He even beat out fellow former Sun Devil D.J. Foster, who is now on the Arizona practice squad.
Benjamin believes that he got over the edge not just with his rushing ability, but by locking in on special teams. This is not an area that Benjamin had to deal with at ASU during the past two seasons. He was a workhorse in the backfield, even breaking the school's single-season rushing record. But behind two veterans with starting experience, he knew what he needed to accomplish to stay on the team.
"As far as getting on the field, I think it all starts with special teams," Benjamin said. "I've got to earn their trust and going out there and proving on special teams that I can do it. Then, being ready if my number is called."
He added: "Rookies came in with not a lot of opportunities to show what they had, but I think that I was able to do just enough to get over the edge and special teams was something that stuck out. That was an opportunity that I needed to fill, and I went up and stepped ahead and took that challenge."
He said he is approaching his situation with a "next man up" mentality.
Benjamin is not new to working his way up the totem pole. He was buried on the depth chart as a freshman at ASU behind Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard. He sparsely got carries early in the season and broke out for a couple of solid performances by the end, capped off by a five-carry, 42-yard outing in the Sun Bowl.
Perhaps Benjamin's patience and focus on other roles will pay off for him in the NFL as well.