TEMPE — The pads have yet to come on this offseason for the Arizona Cardinals, but that hasn’t stopped some players from standing out over OTAs and minicamp.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has taken notice of the development of a handful of young players this offseason, but none more than third-year pro and former Arizona State Sun Devil Eno Benjamin.
After saying he looked like a starting running back on Tuesday, the head coach doubled down on his praise for Benjamin following Day 2 of minicamp.
“More than anything, like I talked about last year, I thought he came on, the professionalism, the work ethic,” Kingsbury said Wednesday. “We knew he was a very talented runner when the ball is in his hands. He has changed his body, he’s leaner.
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“The pass-catching ability, the (pass protection) has just improved dramatically. He was running to exhaustion every day he was here at OTAs. Really excited about what I’ve seen from him and how far he’s come.”
It’s all about mentality for Benjamin, whose NFL journey hasn’t been a typical one.
Drafted in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Benjamin went from ASU starter to the back of Arizona’s roster. He did not record a snap his rookie year.
Fast forward to Year 2 and the reps finally started to come his way, albeit in a limited fashion. At season’s end, the RB recorded 34 carries and seven kick returns for 280 total yards and a touchdown over nine games played.
Now, Benjamin is thinking less and playing even faster as he continues to pick up the details of Arizona’s offense.
He credits his improved play to patience and keeping the faith that he’s on the right path.
“No tough situation lasts forever,” Benjamin said Wednesday. “If you’re confident, God’s always going to work in mysterious ways and whether or not it works out in one spot, I know for sure it’s going to work out somewhere.”
“Leaving high school going to college I had to wait my turn,” he added. “Something was expected here. I feel like it did take a little bit longer but I guess it’s just arriving at the end of the road. Regardless of how you’re getting there, just get there.”
– Benjamin on being near ASU and seeing former Sun Devil Evan Fields trying out for the team:
“A lot of memories do come by as I’m going or driving through certain areas or certain particular places. I got a teammate from college, Evan Fields, who’s here, so probably going to try to make the best of that like old times as well.
“It was honestly great (to see him out on the practice field). Evan was my roommate in college and so it makes it that much better.”