After Ryan Williams' Emergence, What's Down the Road for Beanie Wells, Cardinals

Lou Rom@louromliveContributor ISeptember 16, 2012

Sep 16, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) hands the ball off to running back Beanie Wells (26) during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. The Arizona Cardinals won 20-18.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Ryan Williams nearly cost the Arizona Cardinals the biggest upset in this short season.

Williams fumble with barely a minute in the game looked like the end for Arizona, looking to upend 14-point favorite New England on the road.

However, the usually reliable Stephen Gostkowski went wide left on a 42-yard field-goal attempt with one second left on the clock, and the Cardinals secured the stunning upset.

Despite Williams' late-game fumble and his poor performance, the Cardinals are confident Williams can compliment the bigger, stronger Beanie Wells, forming a running back tandem that meshes with coach Ken Whisenhunt's approach.

Both Williams and Wells have missed time due to knee injuries. Williams missed his entire rookie season and Wells missed significant time last season with an injury that continues to hamper him this year.

But a healthy Williams bodes well both for Wells, and vice versa—the more they share snaps, the less strain on each of their knees while they return to 100 percent.

Wells' 2012 gave a hint at what he's capable of when healthy, gaining 1,047 yards last year and averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Williams' ability as a pro remains unknown.

A Virginia Tech product, Williams only played two years in college after running for 1,655 yards and 21 TDs as a red-shirt freshman in 2009.

For a smaller back, Williams can run north with power and can shake tacklers and gain yards after the catch. At 5'9", 212, he is not afraid to run head-on through the pack.

Wells, at 6'1", 235, is a bruiser with finesse, a guy who can lay out a cornerback and sprint past a defender with game-breaking speed.

With a healthy Williams ready to share the load, the Cardinals have a unique running back tandem—not your typical bruiser-dancer combo, but more of a bruiser-bruiser duo.

The benefit for the Cardinals and whomever the starting quarterback may be is that defenses will never get a break. Both Wells and Williams can wear down tacklers with a straight-ahead running style that will help open holes as the game goes on and keep the defense honest when the game plans calls for getting the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and Co.