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Mom Knows Best: Kenyan Drake Gets Hole-Some Advice

Running back coming off his best game of the season with north-south effort

Running back Kenyan Drake (41) points to a camera after scoring a touchdown in Dallas last weekend, as tight end Dan Arnold (85) comes over to congratulate him.
Running back Kenyan Drake (41) points to a camera after scoring a touchdown in Dallas last weekend, as tight end Dan Arnold (85) comes over to congratulate him.

Kenyan Drake hadn't talked to his Mom in almost a week, the running back still trying to clear his head following a subpar performance in a win over the Jets.

Then she called Drake right before the Monday night game against the Cowboys.

"Hey son," she said, "you going to hit some holes today?"

"I got you," Drake told his mother, and then he proceeded to do just that, showing out like the Drake that starred for the Cardinals late last season. He ripped off 164 yards rushing and two touchdowns in Dallas, looking much better than the guy who played in New York.

"It really hit home when your own mom is not liking what she sees out there," Drake said with a smile. "I just had to buckle up and play ball. Get north and south and make them tackle me going forward."

It was the horizontal-to-the-line-of-scrimmage running that confounded the Cardinals. Drake didn't do it a season ago, and coach Kliff Kingsbury figured it was Drake's desire to break off a huge run every single time he touched the ball instead of working within the play and letting it come naturally.

So that was the message Kingsbury and running backs coach James Saxon gave to Drake.

"He took that to heart, and I thought he did a nice job of finishing runs downhill, was getting north and south from the first play on, and you see the dynamic speed when he gets in open space," Kingsbury said.

Even without the final 69-yard touchdown run, Drake had his best game in Dallas. Overall, he was second in the NFL in rushing yards over expected for the week, averaging 4.36 more yards per carry than expected. Drake averaged 8.2 yards a carry.

That isn't going to be sustainable weekly, but certainly it points to his willingness to barrel upfield more than usual. Drake's signature play might not have been his 20-, 22- or 69-yard runs but his early three-yard run in which he bowled over Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson in the box.

"I've had conversations with (Saxon), leading up to this (game), just telling him about how I couldn't really sleep through the holes (in my game) and the issues I had leading up to this week," Drake said. "He put his complete trust in me that I'm the type of back they want me to be here and in this system. That gave me a lot of confidence to put my head down and grind and go out there like I know I am capable."

Drake's numbers, thanks to the big game, remain good. He has 478 yards rushing on 105 carries – a 4.6 average – and four touchdowns. He also finished games strong against the Jets, 49ers and the Washington Football Team.

Expectations this season, however, were sky high, based on his eight games with the Cardinals last year. The pressure was on to repeat that production, which could blur one's vision when it came to staying simple and not always trying to break a big play outside.

Leave it to Mom -- "She's never afraid to speak her mind," Drake said -- to help set things straight.

"As long as I am healthy and happy, she is happy," Drake said. "For her to speak up about the schematics and what she sees, obviously it's glaring.

"Whatever Mom says, I need to do to the best of my ability to get it done. I hope I made her proud."

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