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Ryan Williams takes a handoff from Richard Bartel during practice Tuesday, July 31. (Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
Flagstaff, Ariz. - Ryan Williams has been the star of training camp.

Returning from a knee injury suffered last preseason, the running back has made play-after-play, day-after-day.

The next step, of course, would be to play in a game, and he'll have his first opportunity to do that Sunday in the Hall of Fame game.

The running back may take the field -- or he may not. The decision, he said, is up to him.

"I'm still anxious at the same time because I haven't played a game in a while, but I'm not because I want to make sure I'm completely comfortable, and going to be comfortable with myself," he said after practice Tuesday.

It's a tough call for Williams, because while everyone wants to see him back on the field in a game situation, everyone knows the Cardinals will really need him on September 9 when the games start to count.

And with Beanie Wells still sidelined after offseason knee surgery, the theme around camp seems to be one of enjoying what Williams is doing, while understanding that he's still got a ways to go before he's truly back.

So, Williams said he's sort of pacing himself, not trying to do too much too quickly.

Right now, he seems to feel good. He certainly looks good, but even still it's important to remember Williams is still less than a year removed from the injury that cost him his rookie season.

"I've read a lot on a lot of injuries and [former Tampa Bay running back] Cadillac (Williams) is probably the most popular running back to have this injury, it took him 14 months to get back and I'm still in month 11," he said.

Hard to believe, but it's true. Williams initially ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee on August 19 of last year, and has been working his way back ever since. Sure, there are times where the running back is sore, but he attributed that more to the game of football than his injury.

So for that, blame his teammates.

"These guys out here, they like hitting me," Williams said, noting that he's always asked if he's OK after being hit. "I tell them it's a good thing for me, just breaking that mental part down if I get hit, fall to the ground, fall on my knee, fall on my side or something like that, it's one of those things where I need it to a certain extent."

With each practice Williams seems closer to not only returning, but coming back as the player who had Cardinals coaches and fans alike excited about what he could do after being taken in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft.

In due time.

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