It may be five running backs after all

Posted by Darren Urban on August 5, 2013 – 12:23 pm

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.”

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16 Responses to “It may be five running backs after all”

  1. By Mike G on Aug 5, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Hope all is good! I think the Card’s did a great job in drafting Ellington and Taylor. Once they get comfortable in pass protection they should be fine. They recognized the injuries to their backs from last year and pulled the string on two young guys. I hope they play well and I believe they are key to the offensive production of the team. Cards need at least a 1000-1300 yards from their backs this year to take the heat off of their passing game. I hope Mendenhall and Williams can get healthy to help the team but that is a big “IF” right now. Darren–I think Arians is going to run the ball more than people think!!! What do you think?????

  2. By Darren Urban on Aug 5, 2013 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: Arians as run play caller

    Arians actually has a history of using the run game a lot.

  3. By fredrich herdt jr on Aug 5, 2013 | Reply

    so far i like this coach he is mature and seems to really know the game and how to use his players. of course he must produce victory’s to prove he was the best choice as coach. nothing else will matter because talk is cheep results are not.

  4. By ored on Aug 5, 2013 | Reply

    so glad we got ellington,liked him all along and look for his versatility to stand out,but much hinges on the blocking scheme effectiveness,can’t wait to iron out the kinks in preseason.

  5. By AzDesertRat1953 on Aug 5, 2013 | Reply

    Darren, was it BA who called the plays with the Steelers in the 08 SB?
    I just thought of that, he was the OC as I remember, but was it Him calling the plays?

    GO CARDS!!!

  6. By Darren Urban on Aug 5, 2013 | Reply

    Az Desert —

    RE: Arians

    Yes, BA called the plays for the Steelers against the Cardinals in the Super Bowl.

  7. By Cardsalltheway on Aug 5, 2013 | Reply

    “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.”

    If everyone will accept the “thunderstorm” and/or “lightening” theory during(cough cough) preseason let me continue…that would partly but perfectly describe last years William Powell who led the NFL in rushing during preseason. Will we have another RB(s) do the same this year?

    The thing is with William Powell, he never had the chance to show his “lightening” because(he got benched after his effort) we relied on injured players(RB’s) who never really showed anything(lightening) in camp and preseason to be our starters. I can see the same thing happening this year. Ellington and Taylor will shine in preseason and then out of irrationality or stubborn thinking…we just “must” start the preferred RB’s in Mendenhall and R. Williams. The absurdity!

    If you never give the thunderstorm a chance to develop then you’ll never know!

  8. By Scott H on Aug 5, 2013 | Reply

    This RB situation is annoying the hell out of me. Because it just seems like there is no surprise that Williams and Mendenhall are limited because of “nagging” injuries. Yeah, nagging is exactly the word for it. Is it me or does it really not seem to happen that often that “nagging” injuries to RB’s that are coming back from major injuries just magically disappear and never come back? Take Beanie Wells, for example…

  9. By AzDesertRat1953 on Aug 6, 2013 | Reply

    Cardsalltheway; I just don’t see BA doing that, he is to much of a run the RB’s to set up the pass kind of guy. From what he is saying about the RB’s so far sounds to me like he might have three or four on the roster and run Every Single one of them as much as possible, see if he can get the Tornado going in more than one RB.

    Who is Beanie Wells playing for now? No one, still unsigned, his knee is toast I am afraid and very sorry to say. Just like Ryan he was played to soon after his injury and it maybe no more football for Beanie Wells.

    GO CARDS!!!

  10. By Eazy E on Aug 6, 2013 | Reply

    Man, it will be good. Hate that crap for Ryan though.

  11. By Coby on Aug 6, 2013 | Reply

    Man am I glad we selected 2 rbs in this years draft.

  12. By clssylssy on Aug 6, 2013 | Reply

    Glad to hear BA is not dumping all the “extra” RBs and hanging everything on a few who have proven to be injury prone and have yet to set the world on fire. The Saints have always had four or five RBs and a strong running game with Peyton was at the helm and even Michael Irving stated that in order to be a playoff team it was necessary to have a strong run game. I look for Stefan Taylor and Ellington to emerge as the “Thunder and Lighting” of the RB group. A good solid RB corp would certainly take some pressure off Palmer and the Offensive Line which even Kurt Warner had some doubts about in his TV interview. Glad to see Breaston landing with the Saints, that was a good pickup for them although I had hoped he might make it back to Arizona (although it seems apparent that Keim/Arians are cleaning house of everybody associated with Whiz and some of our chief rivals will benefit from our internal politics). While I like all the versatility I’m seeing with using Patrick Peterson in different positions, and could even see him being used on a read option, I worry that he will be :”used up” and injured before the halfway mark. I don’t put much energy in reacting to the first depth chart as I know that this will shift dramatically by the 3rd preseason game. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting time of year.

  13. By cardsalltheway on Aug 6, 2013 | Reply

    “5 RB’s”

    Then we can cut 2 of our QB’s(leaving us with only 2) and think about keeping 5 TE’s too!

  14. By Juce on Aug 7, 2013 | Reply

    I have a feeling we are going to need at least 5 backs between the active roster and the practice squad, based on the status of Mendy and now Williams uncertainty.

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