The Arizona Cardinals may sit atop the NFC West with a 4-1 record, but just five weeks into their 2012 campaign the team is already facing a major depth issue at the running back position.
Beanie Wells, the team’s 1,000-yard rusher from a season ago, was placed on injured reserve before Week 4 after suffering a turf toe injury. Because of a league-mandated rule put in place before this season, Wells will be eligible to play again on Nov. 25 against the Rams.
Second-year tailback Ryan Williams, who took over the bulk of the team’s carries after Wells went down, was told earlier this week that he would need season-ending shoulder surgery, following a vicious hit he took in the fourth quarter of last Thursday’s loss in St. Louis.
Heading into Sunday’s game against Buffalo, the Cardinals’ will have three active running backs on their roster — LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell and Alfonso Smith. None of three have started an NFL game and have a combined 117 career carries.
Despite the corps’ lack of experience, ESPN senior football analyst John Clayton told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Thursday not to expect the team to find a better solution on the trade market.
“Not at this stage, no I haven’t heard anything,” said Clayton in response to a question about whether he had heard any rumors regarding the Cardinals’ pursuit of a running back. “I have to think as the season goes along or even over the next week or two, they’d have to be searching for something available.
“The problem is that guy is probably going to have to be a guy that’s going to play on a low salary. Not that they are trying to be cheap about it, but nobody is going to give up a good running back if they still think they have a chance at the playoffs.”
Clayton even dismissed the notion the team could grab a big name on a bad team.
“They could probably get someone for a fifth or a sixth round pick,” said Clayton. “But they aren’t going to get someone like a Chris Johnson from Tennessee.”