TEMPE, Ariz. — Kenyan Drake landed in Arizona around 4 p.m. MT Monday, about nine hours after he was traded from the Miami Dolphins to the Arizona Cardinals. Three hours later, he was sitting in meetings with his new coaches, learning his new offense, in his new home.
Three days later, Drake rushed 15 times for 110 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 52 yards in a 28-25 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Halloween night.
Yep, things have been moving pretty fast in the Cardinals’ running back room.
Arizona signed or traded for three running backs in the past 10 days, and those three made up the depth chart Thursday after David Johnson and Chase Edmonds suffered injuries. Before trading for Drake, Arizona signed both Zach Zenner and Alfred Morris on Oct. 23. The Cardinals (3-5-1) then cut Morris on Friday after the game.
The new running backs had to learn a new offense and new surroundings on the fly.
“The coaching staff, players, everybody, did a good job welcoming me,” Drake said. “I felt like I had been here for a whole week.”
By time Drake woke up Tuesday morning, Zenner and Morris were starting to figure things out.
They were going through plays during the walk-through and seeing plays on film that looked familiar.
“It’s really nice to see some plays this week and remember them from a week ago,” Zenner said. “While last week, everything was new, so [I’m] much further ahead.”
All three running backs stayed at a local hotel this week. Zenner’s wife and two children haven’t made the trip to Arizona yet, so he has had more time than usual to study the playbook on his own.
But all three spent time after practice and meetings this week going through plays and film, trying to get themselves caught up on their own time.
“I can only imagine he hasn’t had much of a life the last few days,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said of Drake, a statement Drake agreed with. “In the building all day, at home doing the same thing. But he cares. It matters to him and that’s why he’s able to have the success he’s had.”
The concepts, formations and terminology have been the toughest challenge. Coach Kliff Kingsbury uses one code word to call the personnel and concept, whereas most other coaches use multiple words.
It was tough to pick up at first, Morris said, but once he learned what all the code words mean, “it’s really simple.”
It’s helped having quarterback Kyler Murray to lean on. If the backs don’t understand something, Murray usually just tells them what to do. On Thursday night, Murray felt if Drake, who played 45 of 52 offensive snaps, could get comfortable, the new addition could “thrive.”
Murray helped with that.
“That’s my job,” Murray said. “He’s out there looking for me to help him out so whenever he didn’t know, it was my job to tell him.”
And it worked.
“That’s what we expected and that’s why we traded for him,” Kingsbury said. “I think his skill set is perfect for what we do. I mean, he’s explosive, he runs tough. I mean, for him to come in and learn an entire game plan — we didn’t pull anything back, we knew we’d have to call our best game against those guys — really impressed by him all week, his level of preparation showed out today.”
Now, with 10 days between games, Drake and Zenner can take a deep breath this weekend after what Zenner called a “whirlwind.”
But there’s always something new to do. Drake is going to spend the weekend finding somewhere to live.