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Jonathan Ward Trying To Lock Down Spot In Crowded RB Room

Notes: Hamilton doesn't see need for cornerback addition

Running back Jonathan Ward celebrates after scoring one of his two touchdowns last week against the Bengals.
Running back Jonathan Ward celebrates after scoring one of his two touchdowns last week against the Bengals.

In public, Jonathan Ward isn't noticed like a Kyler Murray or DeAndre Hopkins, but the 24-year-old had a taste after his impressive fake punt reception against the Cowboys in Week 17 last season.

"There were a lot of people that went and googled my picture to see what I looked like," Ward said. "I've been in the grocery stores and recognized from the people you least expect it from."

Now Ward has a chance to build on his popularity by rising in the running back depth chart, which won't be easy. James Conner will be the starter in 2022 after signing a new deal this offseason. But there is a battle to see who else makes the roster between between Eno Benjamin, Darrel Williams, Keaontay Ingram, and Ward.

It seems unlikely the team will keep five backs.

The rushers have a strong relationship, but that doesn't change the steep competition in a crowded and talented running back room.

"It makes you bring your 'A' game," Ward said. "Just one mistake can put you behind the competition, so it's about going out there every day and giving it the best you have. You can't go out there and glide through the motions. Every day is a test."

Benjamin continues to ascend heading into his third season. Williams brings championship experience from his time with the Chiefs. Ingram is a rookie that flashed in the Cardinals' Week 1 preseason victory over the Bengals, but so did Ward.

Kingsbury acknowledged Ward's skillset outside of running back makes him valuable. Benjamin doesn't have a long history of special teams play, and neither does Ingram. That is one thing Ward can do.

"He has to continue to make plays when his number is called," Kingsbury said. "It's a good room and Ward is right there with them. Every time he touches the ball, he makes something happen. Anytime you can contribute on special teams and be an effective back, there will be a place for you in this league."


Antonio Hamilton has heard the talk surrounding the Cardinals' cornerback position, and whether they should add a veteran to the group.

"I don't listen to none of that stuff," Hamilton said. "We have the ultimate faith and trust in our group of guys that we have. We've been making plays in training camp; no bust coverages or anything like that. We've been consistent and continue to grow with each other. I don't know if people want a big name to hang their hat on, but we believe in the guys we have here."

Hamilton has made a push to usurp Marco Wilson as the starter across from Byron Murphy, although Wilson remains as a potential third cornerback if he doesn't win the starting job. Veteran Josh Jackson and rookie Christian Matthew have also flashed.


Linebacker Markus Golden hasn't practiced since Aug. 1 with a toe injury, but Kingsbury said he isn't concerned about Golden being ready for the regular season.

"He'll be able to get enough work by Week 1 that he feels ready to roll," Kingsbury said.

Other players sitting out practice Tuesday were receiver DeAndre Hopkins, receiver Antoine Wesley, receiver Victor Bolden, cornerback Darrell Baker, center Rodney Hudson, defensive lineman Leki Fotu, offensive lineman Justin Murray, tight end Zach Ertz, receiver Andre Baccellia, and tight end Stephen Anderson.