Many of us are still scratching our heads with the Arizona Cardinals’ surprising release of running back Eno Benjamin.
He was their 2020 seventh-round out of, a local university, Arizona State.
In 10 games this season, Benjamin led all Cardinals running backs with 483 scrimmage yards and 4.3 yards per carry while scoring two touchdowns during that span.
The next chapter of his football career has begun as he was claimed by the Houston Texans, a team that is No. 1 in the waiver order due to having the worst record (1-7-1) in the NFL right now.
Even with Benjamin gone, the Arizona Cardinals still have options on their roster to back up starting running back James Conner.
Their rookie sixth-round pick Keaontay Ingram will now serve as their primary backup running back to James Conner as they wait for their injured ball carriers Darrel Williams (hip) and Jonathan Ward (hamstring) to recover.
Ingram has 28 rushing yards, 23 receiving yards, and a touchdown on 16 total touches through five games this season.
On their practice squad, the Cardinals have capable running backs with experience in Corey Clement and Ty’Son Williams.
Clement (5’10’’ 220lbs) has a career average of 4.1 yards per carry (196) through six seasons in the NFL. The 28-year-old had 100 receiving yards in the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots in 2017. Despite having very limited roles in his career, Clement has flashed explosiveness as a ball carrier and pass catcher out of the backfield.
Williams (6’0’’ 220lbs) began the Baltimore Ravens’ 2021 season as their starter due to season-ending injuries to JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill prior to Week 1. He averaged over six yards on 27 carries in his three starts. In the weeks after, his role greatly diminished to the point where he was strictly a special teams contributor the rest of the way. Nonetheless, he impressed a ton last year.
No one will ever be satisfied with why the Cardinals cut Eno Benjamin. Per former Cardinals’ team reporter Kyle Odegard, playing time disagreement was the reason for his release. No matter why it happened, Benjamin was a fan favorite. He was a local draft product that had nearly 500 total scrimmage yards with Arizona this season. He brought the energy with every touch and looked like their best running back on the roster based on production alone.
Regardless of who backs up James Conner, they might not have much of a role on the offense either way moving forward. In the Cardinals’ 27-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Conner had 21 carries while Ingram and Benjamin had a combined one carry.
When asked why Eno Benjamin played 1 snap against the Rams, Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury says “it was time to give him (James Conner) the starting running back reps.”@AdamSchefter reports Benjamin will be released by the Cards. pic.twitter.com/ojOz0UwLJ5— Bo Brack (@BoBrack) November 14, 2022
Conner had his best game of the season with 86 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. Kliff Kingsbury pointed out during the press conference that Conner got better as the game went along and he did. Arizona rewarded Conner a three-year worth up to $21 million contract this offseason for a reason and if his performance on Sunday is an indicator of what to expect from him for the remaining games of the season, he will be the focal point of the offense from here on out. Conner was not able to replicate the success he had last season but his most recent performance in Sunday’s win is a major step in the right direction for him.