NFL: Statement At Cardinals Running Backs

By Zack Cimini

Your star wide receiver is widely mouthing to reporters that he wants a reliable quarterback in 2011. Not to deal with an undrafted rookie as his starter or a player that competed at Fordham at quarterback. Larry Fitzgerald wants to have a chance to win now, and knows that won’t happen with quarterbacks that can only make predictable throws. Veterans out there aren’t plentiful, but it appears the Cardinals may be heading that route once the lockout phase ends.

Arizona did make a statement on the second day of the draft though, by grabbing running back Ryan Williams from Virginia Tech. It wasn’t an area many draft experts figured the Cardinals would attack early. Obviously, the Cardinals have grown impatient with the duo of Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells. This crowded backfield now becomes one of serious fantasy football monitored situations. Running backs never can be enough in a fantasy football league. Whisenhunt wants to run the ball down opposing teams throats but hasn’t had the consistency from the position.

With Beanie Wells, he has shown glimpses of being an every down back. He has shown explosion in the open field and an ability to get in the end zone. From the very first day he became a Cardinal, the issue has been injuries. Wells can’t stay on the field. Some of the injuries that seem to keep him delayed, are nagging and on going. His body doesn’t’ seem to recover well, which is not a trait you want to have from an every down player. Between Hightower and Wells, Wells is probably higher on Whisenhunt’s short leash. There was too much potential unrealized from Wells. He is likely headed down the same road former first round pick, Thomas Jones, was with the Cardinals. Exiting off his first year contract and having to regain trust with a new team.

Tim Hightower has the physical toughness and demeanor you like from a back. With Kurt Warner he even showed an extra threat of being able to catch the football out of the backfield. Including a huge touchdown in the NFC Championship against the Philadelphia Eagles a few years ago. His biggest issue is leaving the football on the ground. A whopping ten fumbles over the last two years, in which eight were lost. That just can’t happen when you’re only carrying the football around 140-150 carries a year.

The Cardinals tried this rotation for two years and it just wasn’t working. Kurt Warner was able to lift the awareness of this glaring backfield for a year. Jon Skelton and Max Hall were not able to. Ryan Williams is sort of like a Jonathan Stewart. Due to injuries in college his stock dipped from what is was when he was a freshman. He has lost a bit of his speed, but is still a dynamite in between the tackles runner.

This day and age, teams need two strong reliable running backs. The Cardinals have that in Williams now. Who will the other back be, and will Williams get a fair share of carries. We believe he will split carries, and will likely do so with Tim Hightower. So the odd man out would be Wells.

Give the Cardinals organization credit for not just going back to the same tandem, just because they’re young and on the first contracts.


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