For Arizona Cardinals' running back Beanie Wells, an NFL start rarely comes his way. So when he finally does get one after 24 games -- including the playoffs -- it's imperative that he takes advantage of the situation.
After last Sunday's loss to the Bucs, Wells walked away with a pedestrian 50 yards on 16 carries, averaging only 3.1 yards per carry. It's a wonder why he didn't accomplish more considering Tampa Bay's suspect run-defense hasn't been their strong point all season. It wasn't that long ago that Wells was preaching to the press that he wanted more involvement with the offense as well.
So when he finally did get his chance to start, why couldn't Beanie steer Ken Whisenhunt's mind in the right direction and make the decision to start the 22-year old back permanent? If anything, he proved that Tim Hightower could be the better option at running back. After all, Tim is averaging 5.1 yards per carry this season to Beanie's 3.4. Luckily for Wells, Hightower has lost three fumbles already in 2010, thus forcing him to more bench-time.
Let us also not forget that Beanie started the season recovering from knee surgery, and that he is clearly not 100%. In fact, the same knee has been swelling up this week, limiting his practice time and questioning whether or not he will suit up this Sunday. If the knee is causing pains for Wells both literally and on the field, it would be wise to limit his playing time until he is fully healed.
A fully rejuvenated Beanie Wells is a dangerous runner with the ball in his hands. The fans, the team, and Wells himself know that. He possess one of the best stiff arms throughout the league and he is a deceptively fast downhill runner. Although his career long is only 33 yards, Wells is usually a carry away from breaking a big run. In just a year in a half, Well's potential is through the roof, and it's no wonder that the coaching staff is trying to usher him in as a starter.
Wells only issue is one that has stemmed from his college days -- injuries. Beanie missed most of training camp last season with an injured ankle -- which in return left him with a slow start to his rookie season. This offseason he received the aforementioned knee surgery, again causing the slow and disappointing start. He isn't as brittle as some pundits warned, but the lingering injuries have been nagging ones.
With the Cardinals offense spinning in the mud, Wells window to prove himself is wide open for the taking. Tim Hightower has spent time in the doghouse, and LaRod Stephens-Howling is nowhere near starting material -- yet. The Cardinals quarterback-play has been drastic, but the cure to that is a productive running game. If there were ever a moment in Wells short career to become a star and a lead running back, now would be it.
Don't lynch him for the poor production the last two games, as injuries are a part of this league. Unfortunately, he's been at the short end of a few. Regardless of the situation, the offense could use someone to lean on, and Wells could be that guy.