Cardinals Promote RB Jonathan Ward to Active Roster

Alex Weiner

The Arizona Cardinals promoted undrafted rookie running back Jonathan Ward from the practice squad to the active roster for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, the team announced Saturday. The move likely corresponds with veteran position-mate D.J. Foster injuring his quadriceps last Sunday, which was folllowed by the Cardinals placing him on practice squad/injured this week. 

Ward, 6-foot, 200 pounds, played running back over four seasons at Central Michigan. He ran for over 1,000 yards twice and scored 15 touchdowns as a senior. He earned third-team All-MAC honors last season. 

However, with a set rotation of running backs Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds as the No. 1 and No. 2 options, respectively, it appears unlikely Ward was promoted to get any offensive snaps. Plus, seventh-round running back draftee Eno Benjamin is also on the active roster, although he was declared inactive in the first two games of the season. If Ward is active on game day, he would likely be utilized on special teams, where Foster was contributing before his injury. 

In August, Drake praised the efforts of both Benjamin and Ward in training camp. Now, for the first time, both are on the active roster.

"We have some real very intelligent rookies in Eno and Jonathan," Drake said at the time. "Sometimes they help me with things that I may slip up and forget in terms of just natural nuances of the game from the playbook standpoint. We all are really just helping each other in that regard because they have a lot more meeting time than me sometimes in terms of getting them up to speed. They get a lot of the details that I may not have gotten beforehand with the earlier install, so as they continue to learn, I continue to learn and vice versa. We just continue to help each other."

NFL teams are allowed to carry two extra players on the roster for game days this season for a total of 55, although eight of those are mandated to be offensive linemen. The two extra players can also be demoted back to the practice squad after the game's conclusion without going through waivers. Yet, that exemption can only be utilized twice per player. After that any reversion would have to go through the waiver process. This is Ward's first activation, so it will not apply.

The Cardinals have carried three running backs in both of their games. Ward was one of four-practice squad players who the Cardinals protected this week, joining defensive tackles Jonathan Bullard and Michael Dogbe, as well as cornerback Jace Whittaker.

In other roster news, the Cardinals reported a visit with tight end Evan Baylis Saturday. Tight end Maxx Williams is on reserve/injured and Jordan Thomas was recently signed to the active roster. Practice squad tight end Justin Johnson was also placed on practice squad/injured Thursday.

Photo: Arizona Cardinals

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