An understated competition going on in Arizona Cardinals training camp is the battle to be the number two running back behind Andre Ellington. The battle is currently is between second year player Stepfan Taylor and free agent pickup Jonathan Dwyer, a former Steeler who worked under Bruce Arians when he was offensive coordinator there.
Currently, if you watch practice, you see Taylor getting reps with the second team and Dwyer with the third team
However, if you are to listen to head coach Bruce Arians, looking at who is with which team won't give you the whole story.
He spoke about the running back competition on Wednesday after the team's morning wallkthrough (via Arizona Sports) and said "we really won't have a '2' and a '3'." He explained that "they'll (Taylor and Dwyer) roles an go into the games with roles so that everybody knows exactly what to expect."
Both Dwyer and Taylor have been productive in camp.
"We have all of the confidence in the world in Stepfan and Jonathan," he said. "Jonathan had a big, long run [Tuesday] and Steph did an unbelievable job in pass protection. It's an on-going thing, and we'll use them both."
Now, he also said that "when your number is called to increase your role, you better be ready."
In other words, he doesn't know yet and one or the other could see his role expand.
It is what happened last season. At the start of the season, Alfonso Smith got a lot of reps. After his fumble in San Francisco in the final minutes while the team was trying to come back for a victory, he didn't carry the ball again. He also saw less time, as Taylor grew into the role of third down back, coming in for some runs and to pick up the blitz.
What Arians said about roles isn't new. That is pretty much the standard. Each will have the role.
Arians is essentially saying neither has shown to clearly be the better player.
As camp progresses and preseason games start, who do you believe will be the primary ball carrier after Ellington?
We really won't have a ‘2' and a ‘3'. They'll have roles and go into the games with roles so that everybody knows exactly what to expect; and then of course when your number is called to increase your role, you better be ready."
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