No assumptions about the Hyphen

Posted by Darren Urban on October 22, 2012 – 4:40 pm

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.

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Posted in Blog | 38 Comments »

38 Responses to “No assumptions about the Hyphen”

  1. By Credit Card on Oct 22, 2012 | Reply

    How odd, no one questioned Barry Sander’s height and weight.

  2. By Credit Card on Oct 22, 2012 | Reply

    One other thought:

    Fat = out of shape = slow = gets beat repeatedly. Proof of this equation … just ask our starting two offensive guards

  3. By wnycardfan on Oct 22, 2012 | Reply

    He did come to play Sunday, and he did well. If we can get the rest of the offense stepping up like him, we’d be fine.
    Some of the comments are worrisome, when we are saying offense just needs to not turn ball over since DEF is so good. Sounds like “just get a passing grade so you don’t flunk and can move up to the next grade” kind of thing. Understand we have to start performing at some level before you can hope to get real good, but its been a few years with this stagnant offense. Granted, we don’t have to have or require a 30+ point per game offense, but gee would sure be nice to see an offense that could score, as required/needed more than 2 TD’s WITHOUT the Defense helping us

  4. By Jason Marcus on Oct 22, 2012 | Reply

    Howling rules he is a huge asset to the team, a big play maker ,and vastly underrated.I think he is one of our most valuable weapons on offense , it is a pleasure to watch him go into mini beast mode every week.

  5. By Brett on Oct 22, 2012 | Reply

    Finally something positive coming out of this blog everyone wants to jump ship I.say let them bandwagoneers, you all know who you are…..

  6. By georgiebird on Oct 22, 2012 | Reply

    How can a 3rd string RB gain 104 yards and 5yds/carry with no offensive lineman and a terrible offensive line coach. This is unbelievable. If we can get some OL guys and a coach, LSH could probably get at least 250 yds a game.
    On the other side of the ball, our defense gives up 9+ yds a carry in the 1st half to Minn and all is well with the defensive coach. Nice country, America.

  7. By johnnybluenose on Oct 22, 2012 | Reply

    LSH played a great game sunday. as for the dropped screen pass against the bills, i fault skelton for making a poor pass. that was an easy completion for any competent quarterback. and powell has hardly played since he messed up on the play that caused kolb’s injury. did that plus his fumble on the kick-off on sunday vs the vikings land him in whiz’s doghouse?

  8. By Darren Urban on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    johnnyblue —

    RE: Powell

    No, I don’t think he’s in the doghouse. At the end of the Bills game, LaRod plays in those packages. Against Minny, would you have taken LaRod out? I wouldn’t have.

  9. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 22, 2012 | Reply

    Really, Credit Card, implying Sanders to LaRuSH?
    Maybe Max Hall, but Sanders?

    And Darren, talked to LaRod at training camp and he prefers LaRuSH to Hyphen.

  10. By Darren Urban on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: Hyphen

    Well, I get that. William Powell also said he really wasn’t crazy about WiPo. But we usually don’t get to pick our nicknames. Ask George Costanza about that.

  11. By georgiebird on Oct 22, 2012 | Reply

    How many of our offensive linemen made it to the Pro Bowl in the two years Warner took us to the playoffs?

  12. By Darren Urban on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: OL Pro Bowl


  13. By Eric Y on Oct 22, 2012 | Reply

    Love him. I remember the conf. call when we got him. It was pretty moving. Very happy for him breaking the century mark. Keep it up, Hyphen!

  14. By tyman on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    We should work out Vince Young. His QB style fits our team perfect and he does have a winning record as a starter.

  15. By johnnybluenose on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    daryn colledge is talking about deciding on whether it’s time to step up or time to step down. i think i understand that part about “stepping up”. i’m not sure i understand the “stepping down” stuff.

  16. By lg on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    howling did great cause the oline cant block a soul.and john did ok to get sacked 7 times yea he turn it over two time but he was running for his life the hole dam game

  17. By dan on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    LSH is better than I thought.

  18. By cardsalltheway on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    “He had been injured”

    All our backs ahead of W. Powell have been injured, not a surprise.

    “That showing was underscored when Stephens-Howling dropped a screen pass in overtime.”

    Oh yes, I remember. I also wondered why W. Powell wasn’t in at that time since W. Powell was tearing it up that day.

    The Vikings invited us to run the ball but definitely kudos to LSH. After 6 weeks it’s about time he does something. However, we should’ve seen more of W. Powell, the commentators were commenting on the abuse LSH was taking.

    The goal of Ken W. shouldn’t have been to get LSH 100 yards. We need to use both LSH and W. Powell Just because LSH can play every down doesn’t mean he should. There is something else to consider, we have 16 games to play(plus preseason) and I doubt he could last a whole season playing nearly every down. LSH hasn’t stayed healthy playing as little as he has at RB and kick returner. The only guy that had a chance at playing nearly every down despite being the healthiest and most productive was W. Powell but he unfairly got iced by Ken W

    And, after a very productive game the previous week W. Powell nearly got completely iced again, he’ll only have to thaw his confidence out this time and understanding that after playing very well with substantial production/minimal carries during one week for Ken W. doesn’t mean you’ll get much of a chance the next week. LSH was an okay curve ball, the Vikings were probably expecting to see W. Powell but they are similar in size with slightly different running styles, so not a very good curve.

  19. By D on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Looking ahead
    The schedule as most see it for the Cards only has a few winnable games if the offense continues to falter. And that is if the defense can keep up this pace. Home games against the Rams and Lions and maybe away at the Jets. That only gives the Cards 7 wins for the season, and clearly an upset on the road or against SF would be very nice, but my question would be will ownership stick it out with Whiz through the end his contract? None winning seasons are starting to add up since the Warner retirement and I think the problem has been that a QB and OT should have been drafted in the first two rounds in one of the past drafts, maybe it will happen this year. I give the Cards credit for taking a chance on Kolb, but besides the Qb in Houston and the QB at the Saints, free agent QB’s overall normally don’t turn into a long successful winning franchises. The new wave for almost half of the NFL teams is to groom a draft pick. We would much rather have a QB situation like Ravens, Atl, Redskins, etc. Who would Card fans want right now, our situation at QB or the QB in Cincy whom we could have drafted….

  20. By Dave Chm on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply


    I know its not the focus right now, but just a question, Would the Cards possibly be wearing their all RED uniforms for Monday Night?

  21. By Darren Urban on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Dave Chm —

    RE: uniforms

    I do not know. I will see if I can find out.

  22. By Rick on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Trade deadline is approaching and I think we all would be disappointed if nothing gets done to fix our sorry excuse for an offensive line.

  23. By cardfan on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    hey darren,

    Are the coaches going to do anything about the cardinals O-line or lose every other game going forward..I also found out the packers had the same problem as us and they fixed it by switching the gaurds and tackle around, is that true Darren? if so why can’t we do the same?

  24. By Darren Urban on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    cardfan —

    RE: Moving OL

    I don’t know what the Packers did. Haven’t researched that. Could the Cards shift linemen around? They could. I would guess they are exploring every option.

  25. By DontTakeLoses on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Darren: Any word on Kevin Kolb recovery? DTL

  26. By Darren Urban on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Dont Take —

    RE: Kolb

    If I hear something I’ll pass it on. Nothing right now.

  27. By bluepitt on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    @ cardsalltheway,
    Do you not understand Powell missed a simple check, that every one got, causing Kolb to get hurt! Do you not understand he doesn’t run the right plays? Do you not understand that Just one player with No clue can cause huge problems, injuries, and turnovers?
    Powell is a great “Ball Runner” but not even close to being a Running Back in the NFL. You can have a guy that gets huge yards and then messes up causing a huge loss at a crucial time. It is a no brainer! If you are after stats and not W’s then put in great Athletes not great Players and you get your huge stats and tons of missed opportunities! Ill take a smart player over a huge stat player all day! Powell will be good but he needs to learn there is more to being a Running Back then just running the ball.
    K. Warner: Negatives= Below average arm, Not great at getting out of pressure, not a gifted athlete.
    Positives= (only one) Smart Player Understands the game and his position!

    J.Rice: Neg’s= Below average speed, not physical in run game.
    Pos= Great hands, Smart player, Understands his Position.

    E.Smith= Neg’s=Below average speed, Below average size.
    Pos=Understands his position, understands the game.

    And the other side or the equation:

    V. Young:Pos= Great speed, Great Arm, Extends Plays, Great Athlete
    Negs= Head case, doesn’t understand his position,

    M.Vick (see above)

    D. McNabb (See Above)

    J. Russel (See Above)

    E. Ducette Pos= Great Speed, Great Athlete, Great Size
    Negs= Cant catch, gives up on plays, not consistent, Doesn’t understand the game.

    Blair Thomas Pos= Great speed, great athlete
    Didnt understand the game!

    Rashaan Salaam.. Enough said

    Ki-Jana Carter..Enough said
    I’m not saying Powell is a bust by no means, but the guy has to learn the plays and game before you put all your eggs in his basket one game does not make a NFL GOD. Especially when he was seriously swimming and makes a huge mistake on a simple check at the line!!!!!

  28. By bluepitt on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    On the game, I am not disappointed in Skelton, I knew going in, what and who he is (A great back up that can win games in a relief roll).
    I am super Mad at Earley, Darren did or have you had a chance to see the Int return for the TD? Please look and then respond. I don’t understand how Ducette just gives up on the play! He could have got the DEFENDER way prior to the TD!!!! (just lazzzzy!) Do you think that that is a point that Whiz will go over with Ducette? Do you think (Personally) that Floyd with all his growing pains is a better option at this point Darren?

  29. By Darren Urban on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    blutpitt —

    RE: Doucet

    No, I don’t see that being any kind of turning point. Rightly or wrongly, it looked like Doucet thought his teammates would make the tackle, and when they didn’t it was too late. He’s not a defender, so that’s not a surprising reaction.

  30. By Brandon M on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    I have no doubt in my mind right now that the Cardinals are going to go into the bye on a winning streak of 2.

  31. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Just kidding about the Hyphen nickname.
    And with my moniker I understand about variations that I’m not quite fond of.
    I’m sure when you have people criticizing your work you’ve been called “SubUrban” or DarrenToBeRelevant” or “That Donovan Lover” before.

  32. By Darren Urban on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    AndyStands –

    RE: nickname

    Comon, I know you by now. Not everyone would have been worthy of a Costanza reference.

  33. By brom on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Powell can most certainly be used more but he needs to make sure he understands the game as an NFL RB. The physical talent is there but the intelligence is needed as well. Today’s defenses run complicated schemes to confuse the QBs, so the RBs must be able to know when to pick up the blitzes and /or peel off as the outlet. I’m still impressed with his abilities. I expect to see him getting more opportunities as long as he progresses.

  34. By brom on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Bluepitt, I have to agree with you in regards to Earley Ducette. I’ve been disappointed with him this year as well. Not only did he make a lazy effort to tackle on the INT, he’s also been nonchalant receiving the ball. I get mad everytime they throw it his way. I Would spend more time with Roberts and the tight ends.

  35. By Chuck 1 on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply


    Re: Ki-Jana Carter

    If you recall, in his first season, he suffered a devastating knee injury and never returned to his college level performance. So, you have no basis for your criticism.

    A Penn State Alum

  36. By bluepitt on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    @ Darren, I don’t mean turning point, but when I see the ball in the air and then see it is heading to Earley I get this feeling that he ..A.) wont catch it. B.) is’nt going to follow through on the play to its potential.
    Im right 99.9% of the time. I understand that he is not s defender, but you cant just watch and hope you don’t have to do the work.( In my opinion)The defender stuff works in popwarner up to Prep football, not when you get Millions to play the game. Kind of sounds & looks like Early is wating for his teammates to make the catches for him as well. You have to do every thing your power to help your team WIN!!! I understand drops (not as many as he has had) and blown routs & mental mistakes, but lazy just does not cut it for me. All of the 10 other players switched to defender in about .005 seconds, but not Earley, he just walked then joged then decided to run after the ball was all but in the end zone.

    I am with you 1,000,000% but to ask for him over an established player, even after we know he does not understand all of his duty’s is just crazy. I like him as well, and think he will be a good to average relief RB in the NFL, his short body of work does not even close to prove he is a “Starter” in the NFL.

  37. By bluepitt on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    @Chuck 1,
    That is true…Didnt think of that…

  38. By Chuck 1 on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply


    I was surprised when I did research on Ki-Jana Carter to learn that he suffered his ACL injury on his THIRD CARRY in the FIRST PRESEASON GAME!!!

    Talk about a short-lived HEALTHY NFL career. Much like Williiams’ 2011 experience.

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