The Arizona Cardinals let their leading rusher from each of the past two seasons, Kenyan Drake, walk in free agency. From that point on, the team has shoved Chase Edmonds down our throats at every turn, continuously voicing their belief in the Fordham product as their lead-back.
However, this week’s addition of former Pro Bowl running back James Conner may ultimately throw a wrench in those plans. The ex-Pittsburgh Steeler has been hobbled by injuries the past two seasons but did finish 2018 as the AFC’s fifth-leading rusher.
While it’s unclear how the workload will be distributed between the two backs moving forward, Conner doesn’t appear all too fazed about the way he and his fellow Pennsylvania native will mesh in Arizona’s backfield.
“He’s got that dog mentality, just like I’ve got,” Conner said, via the team’s official website. “We’re just gonna roll.”
As for Edmonds, he appears to be in the same boat when it comes to the situation, showing nothing but love for Conner since his arrival in the desert. Edmonds took to Twitter after the team officially announced Conner’s signing to shout out his new backfield mate.
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Conner Addresses Injury
It’s not too often you see a 25-year-old running back with a Pro Bowl under his belt and limited tread on his tires (just 656 total career touches to his name) sitting there for the taking a month into free agency. Yet, that was exactly the case for Conner, as his injury history evidently negatively affected his market.
In each of the three seasons he entered the year as the Steelers’ starting running back, he never appeared in more than 13 games. He’s also currently rehabbing from an offseason toe surgery due to an ATV accident.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport recently tabbed the injury a “very moderate turf toe-type injury” and reported that the procedure was done by renowned specialist Dr. Robert Anderson and that a full recovery is expected in June.
As for where his rehab is at the very moment, Conner says it’s coming along.
“I’m healing up well,” he noted.
Conner Has Previous Ties to Coaching Staff
Conner believes that Arizona is “the right place, the right time.” It also just happens to be a place he has some previous ties to. Cardinals’ running back coach James Saxon served as Conner’s position coach for two seasons in Pittsburgh.
“He was always more than a coach to me,” Conner said of Saxon.
Saxon helped guide Conner to a career campaign in 2018, where the former third-round pick totaled 1,470 yards from scrimmage and 13 combined touchdowns. Also, his 10 red zone rushing touchdowns ranked third in the NFL.
While Conner enjoyed some brilliant moments with the Steelers, he’s hopeful his best play is still ahead of him.
“That time in Pittsburgh was just prepping me for where I am right now in my life and this journey, brought me here to A-Z,” Conner said. “I felt like I was well-equipped with everything I’ve been through and continue to go through on this journey. I’m truly excited.”
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