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Eno Benjamin poised for breakout season with Arizona Cardinals

The former Arizona State running back has "a lot to prove" this offseason.
Credit: AP
Arizona Cardinals running back Eno Benjamin (26) runs past San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga, left, and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick to score during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has repeatedly said how impressed he's been with running back Eno Benjamin throughout offseason workouts. 

As Benjamin prepares for his third NFL season, the former Arizona State star seems to be poised for a breakout year in the desert.

"In our running back room there's so much competition and even James Conner would tell you everyone's mindset needs to be 'you're the starting running back.' That's every day what I'm thinking and that's the way I like to go and try to carry on my business," Benjamin said during the final day of the mandatory mini-camp. "The competition's never going to stop so you can never be content. That's something that's always going to push you to continue to go forward and go harder."

Benjamin acknowledged that Conner is RB1 in Arizona but with the departure of Chase Edmonds in the offseason, the Cardinals are still trying to identify who RB2 will be heading into the 2022 season. Benjamin could ultimately fill that role if he continues to develop and impress throughout training camp. 

After navigating the pandemic and COVID protocols for the last two years, the third-year running back has benefitted from experiencing his first "normal" offseason.

"Eno Benjamin's been tremendous. Another guy who never had an offseason. He's out there and looks like he could be a starting running back," Kingsbury said. "The professionalism, the work ethic... We knew he was a very talented runner when the ball is in his hands. He's changed his body, he's leaner. But the pass-catching abilities, the pass [protection], has just improved dramatically. He was running to exhaustion every day that he was here for OTAs and [I’m] just really excited about what I've seen from him and how far he's come."

The Cardinals selected the former ASU star in the seventh round (222nd overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Benjamin was inactive for every game of his rookie season but the former Sun Devil showed flashes in 2021 when presented with the opportunity, even scoring his first NFL touchdown in the Cards' Week 9 win over the San Francisco 49ers. 

Benjamin came into the offseason with a boost in his confidence but his patience is what's allowed him to be ready when his number is called.

"I feel like anyone in any job has to have some type of patience to get where you're going. Leaving high school and going to college I had to wait my turn... Something, you could say, was expected here. I feel like it did take a little bit longer but I guess it's just about arriving at the end of the road. Regardless of how you get there, it's just getting there," Benjamin said. "This offseason I feel like I have a lot to prove. Just now getting settled, having OTAs and some burn, I can finally show what I've got. I think this offseason was a huge accomplishment."

The Cardinals will get some time off before turning their attention to training camp, which is set to begin in late July. The Cardinals open their regular season at home against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Sept. 11.

Follow the conversation with Lina Washington on Twitter: @LWashingtonTV. If you have a sports story idea, e-mail Lina at LWashington@12News.com.

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