A lot of the talk surrounding the Arizona Cardinals heading into training camp has to deal with the quarterback battle between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. To me, however, the biggest position battle for this team is between the running backs––Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams.
As many of you have probably read, this is a duo that could become one of the best in the game. Both players have shown a ton of potential. Williams looked impressive in the 2011 preseason and Wells has had a couple of good years.
So which player deserves to start?
Here are four reasons why Beanie Wells needs to be the starting running back at the beginning of the 2012 season.
Beanie Wells had a solid year for the Arizona Cardinals in 2011. In 14 games he set career highs in carries (245), yards (1,047) and touchdowns (10). He also posted a respectable 4.3 yards per carry average.
While these are not amazing numbers, they are on par with the three other running backs in the division. In fact, Wells’ 10 rushing touchdowns were second most in the NFC West behind only Marshawn Lynch in Seattle.
When a player has a year like this, it should take something significant (i.e. a bad injury or severe off-field issues) to oust them from their starting role.
Now that the offensive line has been patched up, one thing that people point to as an issue for Arizona is their uncertainty at the quarterback position. Many analysts have used this as the reason why the Cardinals will miss the playoffs yet again in 2012.
How Kolb and/or Skelton will fare is a completely different argument, but if there is one thing that will help them out, it is having similar faces in the offense to start the season.
Arizona will potentially have two new players on the offensive line and a new wide receiver. Throw Ryan Williams in there and the quarterbacks will have many adjustments to make on offense.
This is not saying that Williams should not get any carries; it is just suggesting that Wells should receive a bit more of the workload early on.
As mentioned in the opening slide, Williams did look impressive before getting hurt last preseason. With that said, by not playing last year, he will not be as used to the speed of the NFL as someone like Beanie Wells, who has played in over 40 games during his pro career.
Williams is practically still a rookie and throwing him in too soon, especially coming off of a major injury, is not a good idea.
Prior to his breakout season in 2011, Beanie Wells had already been given the bust label by some people. Last year he showed that he can be a dominate running back when healthy, but the current conclusion is that he is injury prone.
On top of this, Wells has been challenged by head coach Ken Whisenhunt to be ready for training camp. Whisenhunt said: “He’s got to work himself back into being ready. We’ve done the right thing with Beanie, as far as the off-season. He’s got to bust his tail over the next few weeks to be ready for training camp because we’ve had some guys look good out there.”
As previously mentioned, Wells has the potential to be a great running back. At this stage in his career, however, he still has something to prove to both the fans and the organization. If he is not starting in Week 1, then I would not expect him to be with the team after the 2012 season.