Year 4 is on deck for Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds in 2021 and this upcoming campaign brings with it an extremely intriguing opportunity. In the past, Edmonds has played second fiddle to other backs like David Johnson and Kenyan Drake, who have manned the starting spot in the backfield rotation throughout his tenure. Now, that lane to starting status is a bit more open. Johnson has been gone for a full year at this point and Drake departed for the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency. Arizona did add former Steelers starter James Conner into the mix, but it does appear like Edmonds will be given a chance to finally take that leap up the depth chart.
“It’s now or never,” Edmonds told the official Cardinals website. “I’ve finally got my opportunity really and truly in front of me to have a pretty big role in this offense. It’s something I’ve been dying for, praying for, since my first three years in the NFL. It seemed like it would never happen, but I’ve finally got this opportunity, and I’ve got to make the most of it.
“I’m ready to run through a damn wall. I’m really ready to prove myself right. People don’t understand how bad. I get what people are saying. I get the arguments and (expletive), but I really couldn’t care less. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to ball out this year.”
While Edmonds hasn’t been looked at as a feature back previously, he has carved out a solid role for himself and has shown what he can do when given the rock. In 16 games played (two starts) in 2020, the former fourth-rounder totaled a career-high 850 yards from scrimmage to go along with five touchdowns. His rushing and receiving yards, along with his receptions were also career marks. His detractors, meanwhile, would point to the 5-foot-9, 210 pounder’s frame as a possible red flag to giving him the full workload. There’s also the fact that he did injure himself after logging 27 touches in a 2019 contest against the Giants where he totaled 126 yards and three touchdowns, raising concerns about his durability. Because of that, some may continue to question Edmonds, but he seems eager to change that narrative.
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“I know there’s doubts about my frame and about how little I am and about, ‘Oh, he got injured when he had a full load,’ or, ‘Every time he gets a full load he doesn’t produce the same way,'” he said. “I read it all, bro.
“I may not be your typical 20-carry guy. Not every running back is a 20-carry guy. But I believe I’m certainly capable of being a 20-touch type-of-guy. Whether that’s 15 carries and five grabs, or 16 carries and four grabs. I feel like there’s unique ways you can get a player the ball a decent amount of time, and it doesn’t have to be a Derrick Henry or Nick Chubb style, just running up the middle. For people to believe I’m not that type of guy, that’s their opinion, but I believe if I have 20 touches in a game, I can make some special things happen.”
Naturally, the presence of Conner — a back with plenty of starting experience — will be something Edmonds will need to fend off as he tries to solidify himself as the lead dog. That said, the Cardinals back also noted that the two should complement one another well and he’ll be “right on the sidelines cheering” when Conner is out on the field, highlighting no contentious battle on deck in training camp. Meanwhile, if Edmonds can live up to the high bar he’s setting for himself entering this pivotal fourth season in the league, he’ll not only make the Arizona offense that much more lethal, but he’d also be a sneaky fantasy football option for us at home as well. Sounds like a win-win all around.