When Ryan Williams was released, Rashard Mendenhall retired and Alfonso Smith was not re-signed, it created some roster spots for running backs to find a job. The Arizona Cardinals signed veteran Jonathan Dwyer, in a move that screamed the 2014 Rashard Mendenhall, leaving basically one spot for a running back to earn.
The team signed Robert Hughes to a future contract early in the offseason and since have added undrafted running backs Zach Bauman, Damien Thigpen and four-year vet Jalen Parmele to battle for that final spot. During OTAs, head coach Robert Hughes was named as the guy that would appear to have the inside track to be the fourth back on the roster.
That apparently hasn't changed, as Arians again praised Hughes during mini-camp, lauding his versatility and calling him "an outstanding player."
"He can play running back, fullback, small tight end," said Arians. "He's an excellent pass receiver, also."
Quarterback Carson Palmer said Hughes "looks really good" and elaborated a bit more on Hughes' ability to catch the ball.
"If you're to take two or three guys with the best hands on the team, he's definitely one of the guys," Palmer said.
He also explained how surprised he was that a guy with Hughes' build (5-11, 235 pounds), "how fluid he is running routes and how well he does at adjusting to balls and catching balls, and in the passing game (blocking) he's really good."
The Hughes signing probably didn't move the radar for a single fan anywhere, but the former Notre Dame fullback might become a roster staple.
Arians does not like to keep a fullback on his team's roster, but Hughes would be different -- he can run the ball a little, he can catch the ball and he can play multiple positions. He also is a good special teams player.
The more and more time goes by, the younger backs like Bauman and Thigpen might not be competing with Hughes. They might be battling an Arians guy in Jonathan Dwyer for a roster spot because of the many things that Hughes can do for a team.
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