Chris “Beanie” Wells succumbed to a right ankle injury in his first practice with the Arizona Cardinals. Normally I would not be worried about a rookie RB missing a few practices, but Wells missed all of the OTA’s leading up to training camp because of Ohio State’s school schedule.
Two recent Ohio State products – Santonio Holmes and Vernon Gholston – struggled their rookie seasons when they had to deal with the same rules.
The transition from college to the NFL is tough and starting behind the eight ball like the Buckeye products does make it even tougher.
There is no questioning “Beanie’s” talent. He hits the hole hard, has break away speed, and is a physical runner. The other thing I love about Wells is that he stepped up in the big games during his time in college. He played great all three years against Michigan, which to Ohio State fans is more important than the National Championship game.
The one question mark I have about Chris is if he can handle the rigors of an NFL season? A negative in “Beanie’s” running style is that he runs straight up leaving his legs exposed for injury like the one that occurred in his first practice. Those big, strong legs will have a target on them, a man with his size and speed, the easiest way for opponents to take him out will be to go low. Wells is going to have to learn to balance out when is the right time to be physical or to be smart and not beat yourself up for minimal gain.
Tim Hightower and Chris “Beanie” Wells have the potential to be a very exciting 1-2 punch in the backfield. Right now the best running back combo’s in the NFL are in no particular order:
Chris Johnson/ Lendale White – Tennessee Titans
Brandon Jacobs/Ahmad Bradshaw/Andre Brown – New York Giants
Adrian Peterson/Chester Taylor – Minnesota Vikings
Marshawn Lynch/Fred Jackson/Dominic Rhodes – Buffalo Bills
Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams – Miami Dolphins
Joseph Addai/Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts
Thomas Jones/Leon Washington/Shonn Greene – New York Jets
Marion Barber/Felix Jones/Tashard Choice – Dallas Cowboys
Darren McFadden/Justin Fargas/Michael Bush – Oakland Raiders
LaDanian Tomlinson/Darren Sproles – San Diego Chargers
Michael Turner/Jerious Norwood – Atlanta Falcons
Willis McGahee/Ray Rice/LeRon McClain – Baltimore Ravens
The Cardinals combination should be added to that list by mid-season. Coach Whisenhunt, who is now calling plays needs to show patience and be more dedicated to the running game than they were last year. Getting Hightower and Wells in-between 20-25 touches a game will open up things more for the passing game and help keep Kurt Warner from shouldering the full offensive load. Four of Arizona’s first five opponents gave up 4.0 yards per carry or more per game (the 49ers were the one team not included) giving the Cards the chance to show off their new and improved rushing attack.