The Arizona Cardinals are entering the 2012 season with question marks surrounding a few positions on the offensive side of the ball.
Will the quarterbacks play well? Can the offensive line protect the quarterbacks? Will someone emerge as a true threat opposite Larry Fitzgerald?
We don’t know yet.
What we do know, however, is that few are questioning the team’s running backs, at least when it comes to ability.
Both Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams enter the season with great expectations, provided each can stay healthy and on the field.
“I definitely think it will be a strength, without a doubt,” Wells said of the running backs. “With all of us healthy I think we’re all pretty good running backs, so I think we’re all capable of producing.”
Wells did exactly that last season, his first as a full-time starter, by rushing for 1,047 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games.
It was an effort that would have many believing the 24-year-old is primed to take another step forward, but offseason knee surgery put a bit of a damper on expectations for the former Ohio State Buckeye.
But if expectations are a bit low for Wells they are soaring even higher for Ryan Williams. A second-year pro, Williams missed all of last season after tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee in a preseason game. He’s come back strong this season, looking good all throughout training camp and through preseason action.
He’s ready to go in games that count for the first time in his career.
“To be able to have a positive return, having my mind set on just continuing to work hard so I can continue to be healthy,” Williams said. “I want to be the most successful person to come out of this injury, so I’m going to continue to do what I’ve got to do to do that.”
Should Williams fully recover from his injury there is little doubt he’ll be an impact player, and if Wells falters or has injury issues there is a chance the former Virginia Tech star could find himself getting the bulk of the team’s carries.
But whether it’s Wells or Williams toting the rock, the Cardinals are entering the season with arguably the best stable of running backs they’ve had since moving to the desert. And that, if all goes according to plan, could lead to big things.
“We’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle, it’s just a matter of putting them in the right places and seeing how it all unfolds,” Wells said.
Arizona Sports’ Kyndra de St. Aubin contributed to this report