The Cardinals’ top two running backs are sitting out practice again today, giving coach Bruce Arians the chance to praise the other three — Alfonso Smith and draftees Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington. At one point, he said that Smith was “having a great camp” and has taken a “great step” in making the roster. That seemed to bode not so well for the banged-up Ryan Williams, and indeed, Arians said “it’s hurting (Ryan) extremely not to be on the field competing for a job because those other guys are doing so well.”
At the same time, when asked how many running backs he will keep on the roster — remember, the Cards don’t use fullbacks — Arians said, “probably five. Four or five.”
“It’ll depend on how they all play,” he added.
If the Cardinals indeed keep five, that would allow all of them — Rashard Mendenhall, Williams, Taylor, Smith and Ellington — to be on the team. Would they be all active on game days? No, probably not, but it would allow flexibility if there was a decision to make on Williams if he is slow to come around physically.
That said, it’s clear Arians is hoping Williams is back on the field soon. That isn’t a surprise. Arians was talking about another injured guy — WR Robert Gill, out with a hamstring — when he delivered a line that makes sense with Williams as well: “The clock is ticking.”
— One thing is true: Arians said from jump he liked backs who could pass protect and he has yet to talk about running backs without bringing up the job they are doing in pass protection. (Today, by the way, he said the rookies have done a nice job in that area, and added Smith was too.)
— Arians said the injury list remains static. No one is coming back yet. Mendenhall (tendinitis) is sitting another day. Williams and G Daryn Colledge (leg) are making progress, Arians said, as is LB Karlos Dansby. There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of concern that any of the players are sitting right now, nor if a couple end up missing the Green Bay game. “We’ll err on the side of caution,” Arians said.
— Arians warned about the upcoming depth chart that they don’t mean a ton in his mind. Some third-stringers on the depth chart are “starters” in certain packages. He pointed out LB Daryl Washington will be listed third on the depth chart and that’s strictly because of his impending suspension.
— The coaching staff is “shooting for 15 plays” from the first unit in the preseason opener.
— Finally, we have a walkoff quote from Arians, talking about watching camp phenoms over the years, especially the guys who catch the eye all offseason. Many don’t pay off when needed.
“They are like thunderstorms,” Arians said with a chuckle. “There’s a lot of lightning and then they fade away. You’ve got to make sure it’s a real tornado.”
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, Karlos Dansby, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor
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