Confusion abounds for Cardinals at running back

Posted May 11, 2011 @ 2 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

Our sources in the desert are having a difficult time trying to determine just what exactly the Cardinals might have in mind at running back after their very surprising second-round selection of Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams in the recently concluded NFL draft. All of the sudden, the team's RB situation could not be more muddled with former first-rounder Beanie Wells, potential free agent Tim Hightower, diminutive third-down back LaRod Stephens-Howling and veteran reserve Jason Wright also in the mix. "It was a shock," one team insider said of the selection of Williams. "It's hard to say what's happening. Both (head coach Ken) Whisenhunt and (GM Rod) Graves are claiming that the competition at the position will be healthy, and that the team used four backs last year, although Wright was not used much."

It wasn't long before many team observers began speculating that either Wells or Hightower could be traded, perhaps as part of a deal to land a veteran quarterback, which remains the hottest topic by far in Cardinals Nation.

"You can find holes with both of them," the insider said. "Hightower has had problems with fumbles, while Beanie has had injury issues and been found lacking in blitz pickup. I would have to think that, if they were happy with Beanie, they wouldn't have drafted Williams. I can't see all these backs on the roster when the season starts. At least Wright has extra value as a special-teams player."

Regardless of what ends up happening at running back, the consensus seems to be that Williams, who also has had his share of injury issues, is not expected to become an every-down back, with a two-back time-share setup most likely in the works.

"That's definitely the case," the insider said. " 'Whiz' is a big two-back proponent, and he's not looking at Williams carrying the load by any means.

"Look for an even split between Williams and whoever else."