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Kenyan Drake Proving Capable Of Handling Heavy Workload

Notes: Chase Edmonds still a game-day decision; Gonzalez out, Pugh questionable

Running back Kenyan Drake has not worn down during games this season.
Running back Kenyan Drake has not worn down during games this season.

Chase Edmonds practiced in a limited capacity on Friday, so there is a chance the Cardinals' two-pronged approach at running back remains on schedule in Week 15 against the Eagles.

But if a balky ankle keeps Edmonds sidelined on Sunday, it could mean a heavier workload for starter Kenyan Drake.

There has been plenty of discussion about Drake's bellcow ability throughout his collegiate and professional careers. He consistently produced at Alabama and with the Dolphins, but never surpassed 133 rushing attempts in a season with either team.

The Cardinals have used Drake often since acquiring him in a trade last year, and concerns about a dropoff in production have been unfounded.

Drake carried the ball 333 times in three-and-a-half years with the Dolphins, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He's carried it 324 times in a year-and-a-half with the Cardinals and has an identical yards-per-carry figure.

While his yards per carry this season (4.2) is lower than last year (5.2), the culprit has been inefficiency in the first half. After intermission in 2020, Drake is averaging 5.3 yards per tote.

"I feel like, if you haven't done something for someone to see, it's going to present questions," Drake said. "I've always felt like I'm the type of player that gets stronger as the game goes on. That's what I try to implement in the games, week in and week out.

"We work hard throughout the offseason -- workouts, training camp, things like that -- to push ourselves for these type of moments, and in those moments late in the game or late in the season, to continue to be strong. I feel like I can do that. The more touches I get, the stronger I get."

Drake has 201 carries for 848 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He is on pace to reach 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career.

"I think K.D. has shown, in the time he's been here, about a year-and-a-half worth of games, that he gets better as the game goes on," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He's really good closing out games. He tends to get stronger and stronger.

"He's still learning how to be the No. 1 guy. He has all the ability and talent in the world, and he knows that. I think the more time he spends as that lead dog, the better he's going to get."

If Edmonds cannot play, the Cardinals may turn to veteran running back D.J. Foster as the backup. He was the second-stringer when Drake hurt his ankle earlier this season. Foster is currently on the practice squad and would have to be signed to the active roster.

However, undrafted rookie Jonathan Ward did line up with the offense for a play on Sunday against the Giants, making him another option.

"You wouldn't think he's a rookie, just by his mannerisms and the way he goes about his business," Drake said of Ward. "If we were required to rely on him, to come in and play meaningful snaps in the running game or in the backfield, we wouldn't really blink an eye. That's for everybody in that room, from me down to Eno (Benjamin), John, D.J., Chase. Even if we need (coach James) Saxon to go out there and get a couple yards, I feel like he could be hard-nosed, fall forward for a couple and get that first down."


Kicker Zane Gonzalez (back) will miss his second straight game. Veteran kicker Mike Nugent, who will be pulled up from the practice squad, filled in last week and was 4-for-4 on field goals, with a 55-yard miss getting waived off due to a false start penalty.

Kingsbury, who is unsure how long Gonzalez will be sidelined, has confidence in Nugent.

"He's got a great approach," Kingsbury said. "He's been around this league a lot and kicked at a high level for a long time, so we feel confident. It was a great job that he did."


Left guard Justin Pugh (calf) did not practice all week but has been listed as questionable to play on Sunday. If he is sidelined, Justin Murray could take over his spot with J.R. Sweezy inserted at right guard. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring) and Edmonds are also listed as questionable.

Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (hamstring), safety Jalen Thompson (ankle) and outside linebacker Kylie Fitts (hamstring) won't play.

For the Eagles, cornerback Avonte Maddox (knee) and tackle Jack Driscoll (knee) are out, while cornerback Darius Slay (concussion), defensive tackle Malik Jackson (concussion) and safety Grayland Arnold (hamstring) are questionable.