With a major quarterback controversy brewing in Arizona, the more important battle is happening in the Cardinals backfield.
Who should be the No. 1 running back?
While the preseason isn't always a good barometer of how well a player will do in the season, Williams has been much more effective than Wells in the little action each has seen.
For the Cardinals fans or the fantasy football players trying to decide which player is right for their team, we will keep you updated on the tough position battle between Williams and Wells.
Update: Thursday, Aug. 30 at 3 p.m. ET
Cardinals reporter Kent Somers of AZCentral.com broke down ways the team could improve its offense. While he did say the Cardinals should run the ball more, he also talked about using both main running backs in a rotation with fellow rusher LaRod Stephens-Howling.
If the speedy Stephens-Howling does take away more playing time from Wells and Williams, there's a chance no true No. 1 back will emerge. It could turn into a committee situation with each player filling a specific role.
As mentioned below, both Wells and Williams are expected in Arizona's preseason finale. More should be known after the game about the regular season backfield approach.
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What They’re Saying
Both Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams will play against Denver.— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) August 27, 2012
4for4.com editor Josh Moore breaks down what Wells' typical rushes were like in his first taste of preseason action:
#Cardinals: Beanie Wells ran with the 1st team, but didn't do much. Typical play: take handoff, run 2 yards into lineman, fall down. < RWill— Josh Moore (@4for4_Josh) August 27, 2012
NFL reporter Adam Caplan is reporting on the cuts that Williams was making on a surgically repaired knee and how it compares to Wells’ style:
See that subtle cut by Ryan Williams there on that 12-yard run. He's so far ahead of Beanie Wells.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 24, 2012
For the fantasy football fans torn, Sports Illustrated NFL insider Peter King is picking Williams as the breakout player to watch as long as he stays healthy:
RT @bpsmurph: Breakout player that will help me win my league? ... Az RB Ryan Williams, but that Q heavily dependent on injuries.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 24, 2012
What Beanie Wells Offers
Wells racked up 1,047 yards in 14 games last season, but he was plagued by injuries in a few of those outings. Now that he is healthy, the young back deserves the chance to shine.
Despite the terrible situation at quarterback and injuries on the offensive line, Wells has the power to plow though the open holes and the speed to capitalize once he hits open space. The questions about his health are natural, but he deserves a chance.
What Ryan Williams Offers
With a preseason average of five yards per carry, Williams is showing why the team drafted him in the second round with the 38th overall pick. As good as Beanie Wells is, his injuries and inconsistent production will leave the door wide open for Williams.
As much as the elusiveness is the real separation between these two backs, the tape shows that Williams could also be the more effective power back at times. If Williams stays healthy, there is no doubt that he will take the job from the less-talented Wells.
As much as he will claim he is 100 percent going into the season, it won’t take very long for the injury bug to bite Beanie Wells again. No matter how slight the injury will be, it will open up the chance for Williams to shine and steal the starting job.
Wells will get 170 carries for just 400 yards in 2012 spread over just 13 games because of injuries, but it will be the lack of production that seals the young running back’s fate as trade bait. I don’t see Wells starting 2013 in Arizona.
After a shortened college career and a rookie season derailed by a preseason knee injury, Ryan Williams has a lot of doubt around him and whether or not he can stay healthy for an entire season.
There is little doubt, though, that Williams is the faster and more skilled running back, but this battle for running back supremacy will be a testament to who stays healthier the longest. I give the edge to Williams, who will rack up 250 carries for more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.
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