Something about New York brings out the touchdowns in Chase Edmonds.
Sure, there’s a Patriot League-record 74 touchdowns scored during four years at Fordham. But how does the Cardinals’ third-year running back explain the disproportionate ratio of four touchdowns in two games visiting MetLife Stadium — including one against the Jets just two months ago — and seven in the other 39 games of his NFL career?
“I get a little more jacked up and a little more energized just because it feels good to be back in New York,” Edmonds said. “Knowing that I have good family and friends around the area gives me a little more juice when I get up in the morning. As far as having good performances there, that’s just how the games worked out. I look forward to trying to build on it.”
Edmonds’ latest homecoming — albeit in front of empty seats rather than with his parents in the stands, as they were to celebrate his breakout three-touchdown performance against the Giants last season — is Sunday.
This time, however, the 5-foot-9, 210-pound Edmonds is not returning as an unknown backup to Kenyan Drake but rather as a game-breaker: His 42 receptions are tied for sixth among NFL running backs.
“Whether running the ball, catching the ball or on kickoff returns, you put the ball in his hands and this guy can make plays for you,” Giants coach Joe Judge said.
“He understands how to attack your defender’s leverage and create space, either cut back across their face or cut away from them. This guy is definitely someone we’ve focused on throughout the week in preparation of knowing where he is, knowing what they do with him in the game, and identifying who’s going to be matched up with him in certain packages.”
To understand how Edmonds became one of the league’s best third-down backs, look at Fordham on days when the backup running backs were in special teams meetings or drills and the starter was becoming well-rounded.
“Part of his football knowledge came from being in the quarterback meeting rooms,” Fordham assistant coach Shane Fogarty told The Post. “That half-hour a day, and the time he spent listening to the wide receivers coach during practices and taking reps with them started his development. Most of the NFL teams who came in to look at him worked him out at running back and then would have him do a lot of pass-catching stuff.”
Fogarty served up information on pass protection and defensive schematics and Edmonds consumed it with a fervor.
“Coming in my rookie year, the offensive linemen always said I was pretty good at blitz pick-up,” Edmonds said. “That comes from my preparation at Fordham. Both my running back coaches were former college quarterbacks. It was all about safety rotation and what the defense is trying to do to you in certain looks. It really helped in my adjustment coming to the NFL.”
Edmonds was the 2014 Jerry Rice Award winner as the top FCS rookie and finished his career with the fifth-most career rushing yards (5,862) at that level of the NCAA. That number and his draft position — fourth-round pick — would’ve been higher if not for a senior year cut short by missing four games with injuries.
“No matter who we played, he was probably the best player on the field — and he took that to heart,” Fogarty said.
“He smiles all the time now, but he played angry. Everyone had said, ‘You are small and you are at Fordham.’ Even when he was successful and it was the opposite — when he could’ve sat back — he still built that into his mind and that’s why he worked so hard. He had bigger goals to achieve.”
And he’s achieving them in familiar territory.