At 5-foot-9, Eno Benjamin is not the biggest running back. He knows this.
But there is a reason he has a lion tattooed on his chest, with his toughness and determination to succeed.
"I always felt I had the heart of a lion," Benjamin said. "No matter if someone is bigger, faster, stronger than me, I'm going to take myself 10 out of 10 times."
With his mindset, it was only a matter of time before Benjamin found success in the NFL. Benjamin has taken advantage of more playing time with starter James Conner dealing with injured ribs. Benjamin finished with 92 rushing yards, a career-high, and a touchdown in the "Thursday Night Football" victory over the New Orleans Saints.
When Benjamin exited the game, the thought of going after 100 rushing yards for the first time in his career didn't cross his mind. He thought he may have already reached it.
He didn't. But the Cardinals won, which Benjamin acknowledged as most important. After the game, coach Kliff Kingsbury said Conner will remain the starter when he returns from injury while acknowledging Benjamin's growth.
Benjamin doesn't engage in the discussion for more snaps. He just worries about his performance on the field.
"I just never stop preparing," Benjamin said. "I'm waiting for that moment to come. I've always prepared like I'm the starting running back, not knowing what may happen. Wherever they decide to put me, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability."
Quarterback Kyler Murray has known Benjamin since high school. Murray watched the team draft Benjamin with their seventh-round draft pick following an impressive career at Arizona State, and has witnessed Benjamin's growth since becoming NFC West teammates in 2020. Benjamin is more polished and focused on the details, leading to the results on the field.
"I'm not surprised with anything he's accomplished or will accomplish in the future," Murray said. "He runs hard. He always falls forward. He can catch the rock. He's a good football player."
A player, Benjamin emphasizes, who plays bigger than it might say on the roster.
"Me and (then-ASU assistant coach) Antonio Pierce always used to go back and forth about (whether I was a) scatback," Benjamin said with a smile. "I used to shout him way down, 'I'm 210, I'm 211. I'm definitely no scatback.
"Yeah, you'd say I'm a small back, but in my mind, I feel like I'm 235, 6-1 for sure. That's the way I like to play."
Game action photos from the Cardinals' matchup against the New Orleans Saints during Week 7 of the 2022 NFL regular season