Last week I started the roster projections for the Arizona Cardinals, beginning with the quarterbacks . Today, the running backs are up for review. This year's camp is sure to feature several battles at most positions. One of the less-talked-about positions are the running backs. What will happen from now until camp? Or the season? Right now Hightower is the starter, but Beanie Wells is no long shot to take over. It will be interesting when everything unfolds, but for now, all we can do is wonder.
The Starter - Tim Hightower
- Although I strongly feel that Beanie Wells should be the starter, Tim Hightower still has the reigns as the Cardinals starting running back. If we learned anything last season, it's that starting at running back is only a label. Hightower and Wells split carries fairly evenly last season and Ken Whisenhunt prefers Hightower's experience to open the game. He's also more versatile, as he can block and catch out of the backfield.
2nd String - Beanie Wells
- Even if Wells is getting his carries as the second string back, he holds a strong chance to earn the starting nod from now until the season begins. Wells' punishing style sets a pace for the game that Hightower's cannot. He'll follow up a very successful rookie year with a dominant sophomore season, as long as he can stay healthy and avoid putting the ball on the ground. The Cardinals re-tooled their offensive line and will likely pound the rock more with Leinart at quarterback - an offensive scheme that will benfit Wells.
3rd String - LaRod Stephens Howling
- The Cardinals had the pleasure of finding a late-round gem in LaRod Stephens-Howling in last year's draft. LSH not only served as the primary kick off return man, but also saw duties in third down passing situations. He's become a fan-favorite and has a lock on kick off returns. After a full year in the system, LSH will see more playing time on offense and could pose as a potential threat with his speed catching passes out of the backfield.
On The Bubble/Special Teams - Jason Wright
- Wright's chances for making the roster in 2010 have decreased since he signed with the team this past year. The Cardinals originally brought in Wright to back up Wells and Hightower, but with the emergence of Stephens-Howling last season, Wright's position on the roster doesn't seem so sure any longer. Should he remain on the roster, Wright will serve as the fourth string back and would see most of his duties on special teams.
Out Of The Mix - Alfonso Smith
- Smith was an interesting prospect as an undrafted running back joining the Cardinals this offseason. Unfortunately for him, he has an uphill battle to make the roster, let alone see any playing time in 2010. Smith has the physical build and athleticism to contribute in the NFL, it's just a matter of whether or not he can add the mental aspect of it.
The Cardinals find themselves in one of the most pleasing running back situations that they've been in in recent years. Two potential starting running backs and two capable back ups in certainly no problem to have. The running game has never been a strong point, but the 2010 season is sure to showcase the Cardinals rushing attack at a new level.