GLENDALE — Asked if this was a make-or-break year for third-year running back Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was blunt.
“I would think so,” he said.
Williams, though, doesn’t think so. He knows so.
After each of his first two seasons were cut short because of season-ending injuries, Williams, 23, realizes how important this season is to remain healthy.
“It’s the most important thing right now because if I can’t prove that I can stay healthy, then I might not be here,” he said Monday.
A day earlier, Williams was forced to leave practice early after he suffered what he called irritation in his right knee, a knee he had scoped back in January and the one he sustained a ruptured patella tendon in during a preseason game in Green Bay his rookie year.
An MRI on the knee came back clean, according to Arians, but the team will seek a second opinion.
“Just to make sure,” Williams said. “But, I’m pretty sure nothing is wrong with it; just to make sure because I’ve been through this once and I don’t want to go through it again.”
The former Virginia Tech star, drafted in the second round with the 38th overall pick in 2011, thought he had moved past issues with his knee.
“It’s pretty tough because I went through the whole spring without anything and having this happen, it’s not scary but it just sucks,” he said. “I’ve worked so hard. I’ve worked hard to get to the point where I don’t have incidents like this, but that’s part of the game when you have certain injuries like I do.”
Williams, who played five games last year before hurting his shoulder Week 5 in St. Louis, had looked good through the first two days of training camp. He wowed the crowd Saturday with a cutback move that froze a couple of defenders.
“When he has been on the field, he’s Flash,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “He’s made plays, so hopefully he’ll be back soon.”
Said Williams about the play, “That’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to make plays,” he said. “I turned a play that could’ve easily been for a loss of three or four (yards) and I turned it into about a 10-to-15-yard gain. That’s what I’m here to do, and I’m happy that I can do that again.”
Williams didn’t practice Monday and is unsure how much time he’ll miss.
“Having things like this isn’t a setback mentally,” Williams said, “it’s only physically until that thing is taken care of.”