For the second season in a row, injuries are taking a toll on the Arizona Cardinals backfield before the season even starts, and a team that was hoping it would have both its top two backs ready for the 2012 season opener now isn't sure if it will have either.
Only a few days after telling the Cardinals' website that he was "coming along" from offseason knee surgery, fourth-year pro Beanie Wells hinted to reporters that his January surgery may have been more extensive than originally believed according to a tweet by Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic.
RB Beanie Wells still won't give specifics on surgery. Said it was more complicated than fixing meniscus.— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) May 22, 2012
Somers goes into a bit more detail in a blog for The Republic, stating that when he questioned Wells as to whether the surgery was to repair a microfracture, "[Wells] wouldn't say."
Silence can go a long way sometimes, and while without confirmation all we can do is speculate. If the surgery really was of the microfracture variety, the Arizona ground game is in big trouble.
Wells is coming off the best season of his professional career, topping 1,000 yards rushing for the first time. However, knee problems caused the former Ohio State star to miss two games and limited him in several others, which led to the surgery in January that was originally labelled as simply "arthroscopic" by the team's website.
Granted, microfracture surgery isn't the proverbial kiss of death nor does it necessarily put all of Wells' 2012 season in jeopardy. However, it could seriously hinder his ability to participate in training camp and the preseason.
That could lead to a litany of other problems down the road conditioning-wise even if the knee checks out OK, which is no certainty at this point given how hush-hush the organization is being about the situation and the severity of the injury.
This is not news the Cardinals needed right now given that Wells' backup, second-year pro Ryan Williams, has yet to play in an NFL game after tearing his patellar tendon in the 2011 preseason.
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Williams is "hoping to be ready for Week 3 of the regular season" according to CBS Sports, but a torn patellar tendon is about as bad as football injuries get. In any event, Williams hardly sounds ready to carry a full workload early in the season if Wells can't go.
That leaves scat back and return man LaRod Stephens-Howling, Alfonso Smith, William Powell and Javarris James as the Cardinals' healthy running backs, which isn't exactly the stable head coach Ken Whisenhunt had in mind when envisioning his offensive backfield for 2012.
As I said, we can't be sure about either Wells' or Williams' availability for the regular season just yet. That said, there are significant doubts surrounding both—enough that if I were general manager Rod Graves I think I'd start making some phone calls.
I heard Cedric Benson's number is listed.