TEMPE, Ariz. — Monday morning, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was asked about how the respective performances of Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor against the Atlanta Falcons will impact the team moving forward.
“We have a good group of running backs,” the coach said. “I knew we did, because Ryan (Williams) can play. We’ve got a good group of guys and I don’t think you can have enough of them because in a blink they could all be gone.”
Ellington ran for 154 yards and a touchdown in the game, while Taylor carried the ball 14 times for 38 yards. Each played a vital role in the win, and both figure to be part of the team’s plans going forward.
But Williams, the third-year pro out of Virginia Tech, seems to be somewhat in limbo.
A bit of a surprise second-round selection in 2011 by Ken Whisenhunt, he lost his rookie season to a torn patella tendon and the majority of his second year to a shoulder injury. His third season got off to a rocky start as well, as he missed considerable time in training camp with knee troubles. There was some talk of him possibly not making the team out of camp, but a nine-carry, 25-yard, one touchdown performance in the preseason finale against the Denver Broncos was enough to earn a roster spot.
It just was not enough to earn playing time. Williams, who said he’s as close to 100 percent health since the knee injury, believes the shoulder issue “was a blessing in disguise” because it allowed his knee a chance to heal. Though he has not been active for a regular season game, Williams said his mindset has not changed.
“I’m in the same place that I was Week 1,” Williams said Wednesday. “Continue to work hard, and whenever the opportunity is given, take it.”
For his career, Williams has picked up 164 yards on 58 carries, and he’s caught seven passes for 44 yards. At just 23, he would seem to still have a vast amount of untapped potential, but as of now he appears buried on the depth chart behind Ellington, Taylor, Rashard Mendenhall and Alfonso Smith.
It was thought that with Mendenhall out last Sunday Williams may find his way onto the field, but that was not the case. Before, Williams struggled to get on the field due to injuries. Now healthy, he still can’t find his way on.
“As of right now I haven’t played much,” he said. “Kind of surprised that I’m still here because I thought — I didn’t really know what was going on, so I’m just going to continue to work hard.
“Hard work always shines at the end, so I’m going to continue to work hard and get through everything that I’ve been through and continue on my path to trying to be great.”