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Robert Hughes has inside track to fourth running back spot

Bruce Arians says it is unlikely an undrafted kid can supplant him.

Stephen Dunn

With the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, there is a running back spot on the roster up for grabs. The team did not bring back Alfonso Smith and released Ryan Williams, so the only real sure things are Andre Ellington, Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer

So with undrafted rookies Zach Bauman (an NAU product) and Tim Cornett (out of UNLV), you think they have a fair shot at making the team. 

However, a relatively unknown player  to Cardinals fans seems to have the inside track -- Robert Hughes

Hughes was added to the practice squad at the end of last season. He has bounced around a bit, but, like Bradley Sowell, was on the 2012 Colts roster. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame in 2011 and spent time on the practice squad of the Bears, Buccaneers and Redskins before joining the Colts last season.

He played in six games (one start) over the past two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts where he had one carry for five yards and two receptions for nine yards.

Arians made specific mention of Hughes on Friday when he was asked about the what Cornett and Bauman have to do to make the roster. Arians said it would come down to "how well can you play on special teams."

"The fourth running back spot is normally a quality situational football player or a very good special teams player," he explained. "Robert Hughes is a quality all-around football player -- fullback, running back, special teams player. It will be hard for one of the young guys to unseat him right now. But it's possible."

Of course, the team had a similar situation last offseason at safety. They had brought in Jonathon Amaya and he was expected to make the roster as the team's fourth safety because of his special team s play. However, Tony Jefferson was impressive on defense and showed he could play special teams, and he was the guy that made the roster. 

So Hughes is not a sure thing. He just has the inside track at the moment. He does the little things well and he has already worked with Bruce Arians. Unless these undrafted guys are absolute monsters in training camp, we might know what the running back situation will look like even right now, and that very likely will include Robert Hughes.