There was a weary smile when LaRod Stephens-Howling was asked about the assumption that, as a 5-foot-7, 180-some pound guy, he can’t be a full-time running back in the NFL.
“I am so tired of that assumption,” Stephens-Howling said. “I have to hear it every time. I just want to be a running back. I don’t know what else to say about that.”
The Hyphen doesn’t have to say much of anything. He can just point to his day Sunday, after the Cards lost to the Vikings through no fault of his own. He had 20 carries for a career-high 104 yards and a touchdown, and added another four receptions for 45 more yards. Coach Ken Whisenhunt called Stephens-Howling a “warrior” for the performance, and assuming Stephens-Howling stays in such a groove, Whiz said he doesn’t have a problem using him that much.
Stephens-Howling has been in this spot before, as situational guy. He was bounced out of a regular role in college when LeSean McCoy showed up at Pitt, which frustrated him at the time. He’s always been fine to play whatever role the Cards want, but after both Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams went down with their serious injuries, the Hyphen made it clear he was looking forward to increased work. After Sunday’s use, “I feel a little beat up, but that’s how you want to feel after a game,” he said. “You want to feel like you have been in a game.”
He also wanted to feel like he was doing something productive. It hadn’t been the best season for Stephens-Howling before the Vikings’ game. He had been injured. He had struggled, at one point before the Buffalo game he had just one rushing yard on 12 carries. His first game back from his hip and groin problems he couldn’t get going against the Bills despite a start and was outperformed by William Powell. That showing was underscored when Stephens-Howling dropped a screen pass in overtime — a play that would have gained significant yardage — right before John Skelton threw the interception that ultimately cost the Cards the game.
That play “kept me up some nights,” he said, but he had to flush it out against Minnesota. So he had a fresh start, plus a strong week of practice where Stephens-Howling felt for the first time he had his moves back, going into the Metrodome. He “felt more like myself” and turned that into a 100-yard game.
So don’t get all “LaRod can’t be an every-down back” on the Hyphen. He is even keeping his weight up — an issue in the past — when he checked in at 184 pounds last Friday, his highest total since before training camp.
“I’m a solid 184,” Stephens-Howling said, crediting his girlfriend’s home cooking. But it’s good weight. “There are desserts every once in a while,” he said smiling. “Always need those to keep it going.”
– For those wondering, offensive lineman Chris Williams signed with the St. Louis Rams Monday, so he will not, obviously, be coming to Arizona.
Tags: LaRod Stephens-Howling, Vikings, William Powell
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