Camp Look: Kenyan Drake Leads Running Back Room

Howard Balzer

Seventh in a series of Cardinals unit analysis as on-field training camp work in full pads approaches, following special teams, defensive backs, linebackers, defensive line, offensive line and tight ends.

RUNNING BACK

Projected starter: Kenyan Drake

Solid backups: Chase Edmonds, D.J. Foster, Eno Benjamin

On the bubble: Jonathan Ward

The Cardinals are anxious to learn what they will get from Kenyan Drake during his first full season with the team.

Acquired at midseason in 2019 from the Miami Dolphins, Drake rushed for 643 yards in the eight games he played for Arizona last year. Prior to that in his career, he had 1,532 yards rushing in 54 games, an average of 28.4 per contest. He also scored nine touchdowns.

In those eight games with the Cardinals, he averaged 80.4 yards per game with a total of (643) and eight touchdowns. Most important is that he averaged 5.2 yards-per-carry and had an 80-yard touchdown. With the Cardinals spreading their offense in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid system, Drake should continue to get opportunities to run to open spaces in defenses.

Chase Edmonds will have an important complementary role to Drake. He rushed for 303 yards last season (5.1 average) and scored four touchdowns, one of which was 37 yards.

The big question is whether the Cardinals will keep three or four running backs. Coincidentally, both D.J. Foster and the rookie Eno Benjamin attended Arizona State in Tempe, which is also where the Cardinals’ facility is located about 13 miles apart.

One or both could be given looks as a kickoff returner in the summer practices. Foster played in six games last season and had four special-teams tackles before missing the remainder of the year on reserve because of a hamstring injury.

Undrafted free agent Jonathan Ward could also be in the mix, at least for a spot on the practice squad, after rushing for 1,108 yards (6.1 average) and 15 touchdowns at Central Michigan last season.

Next up: WIDE RECEIVER

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