One of the biggest questions for the Arizona Cardinals as they begin training camp is how the running back position plays out with regards to health. The team's top two running backs, Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, are recovering from knee surgeries. Williams suffered a torn patella tendon during the preseason last year and was lost for the season. Wells played most of the 2011 season with leg injuries and had his knee scoped in the offseason.
Wells is on the preseason PUP list. Williams practiced, but with limited reps.
After practice, both running backs talked about the situation, with Williams being a bit more open than Beanie.
Beanie was not very helpful about shedding light on his situation. He described his knee surgery as simply having it scoped, saying "we did some things in there and let some things settle." He didn't give any timetable for his return and didn't say where he is currently at.
However, by all indications, the time off at the start of camp was all part of the plan for him. "It didn't surprise me at all," said Beanie when asked about not being able to practice. "I knew what it was going to do from the beginning."
When asked if he feels like he has to rush back because of the play of Ryan Williams, he said, "Naw, I'm going to take my time. I don't think anyone wants to see a 75 percent Beanie Wells."
When pushed to find out if 75 percent is where he was during 2011, he responded saying, "I don't know if I want to put a percentage on it, but yeah, somewhere around there."
"I'll be out there before you know it," he reassured everyone. "I don't want to go out there and put wear and tear in camp on it when it definitely doesn't matter. But I do need camp at the same time in the later half to get my legs underneath me and get ready for the season."
It almost sounds like the team is rewarding him for playing as much as he did last year with the injury and want to avoid lingering effects come Week 1. He also sounds like a host of other veteran football players who dread the grind of training camp, referring to the start of camp as being "when it really doesn't matter."
When will he be back? "I don't know," said Beanie. "Here in the next few weeks or so."
Now the guy that many believe could overtake him on the depth chart is Ryan Williams. After missing all last season with a torn patella tendon, he is practicing on a limited basis. He played a few snaps and had a few carries, making some very nice, quick moves that were lauded by the crowd in attendance.
"What you saw today was the result of what I've been doing all year," said Williams after practice.
He says that right now he is at 85-90 percent, but that he will be ready for the season. "I feel good," he said. "I feel like come September I'll be ready to play and I'll be myself."
Beanie isn't worried about Williams, though. And he's not going to rush himself. "There's nothing wrong with it," referring to Williams wanting to get carries. "It's what he's supposed to want. He's a talented running back and he's supposed to want to be out on the field just like me."
Just like Beanie doesn't feel any pressure to hurry and get back, Williams says the same thing.
Said Williams, "I don't feel any pressure. Whatever's given, I'll have to take it. Beanie will be back and be himself. I'm ready to do a one-two punch and that's about it."
A one-two punch? And which guy is Williams? "I'm the agile quick kind of guy," he said, pointing out how big Beanie is. He recalled the run in Minnesota when Beanie knocked of a cornerback's helmet. "I would like to do that, but I'm not sure I can," he said.
Now, while Beanie is a guy that wants the ball every play. He also thinks that Williams would like that, too. But Willams is a team guy and has no problem sharing carries with Wells.
"I'm fine with it," he said. "You know I ran a one-two-three punch my last year at Tech (Virginia Tech). Whatever I can do to contribute to the team's success, then that's what I'm about."
Until then, Williams is going to work hard, but knows that he might have to take a day off here and there. "It depends on what my leg feels," he told the reporters. "I wouldn't want to, but if I have to take a day off I have to."
Throughout the whole process, it would appear that the two have forged a relationship.
"That's my bro," Williams said when talking about Wells. "For the last two or three months, we've been in rehab training facility together. I feel like, you know it's sad to say, but these injuries have brought us closer together and built a bond and relationship between me and him."
We might not see much of these guys in the preseason until the very end. But I don't think that there is a single fan that isn't a mix of excited ad worried about the running game this year.
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