Through the first three weeks of the season, the Arizona Cardinals have remained relatively injury-free, especially on defense.
However, today was a day where an already-lacking offense lost another major piece. Running back Beanie Wells was placed on injured reserve and will not be eligible to play until Week 12, according to Pro Football Talk.
The injury Wells is suffering from is turf toe. This was not a pre-existing injury that was re-aggravated this past week; he hurt it severely in the team's 27-6 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Before he left the game, he had only carried the ball eight times for a measly 18 yards.
Sure, Arizona's offense showed signs of life last week against an underachieving Eagles team. But that doesn't change the fact that the Cardinals currently have the 31st-ranked offense in the NFL. The Cardinals are only averaging 263.3 yards of total offense a game, and 82.3 of those yards have come from the run game.
So, just how much does this injury affect their offense? In all honesty, the only thing it really hurts is depth. Ryan Williams had a nice bounce-back game in Week 3 after he single-handedly almost lost the game for Arizona in Week 2. His 13-carry, 83-yard performance were both career highs, and to me, he has looked like the better back through three weeks.
Williams has talent, but his ability to remain healthy with an increased workload will be put under the microscope, as he will be the No. 1 back from here on out. Don't forget that just a year ago at this time, he was rehabbing a serious injury to his patella tendon. Some players never fully recover from a torn patella tendon, as it is one of the most brutal injuries in all of sports.
For added insurance, the team brought back running back Alfonso Smith (via NFL.com). Smith was an undrafted free agent in 2010 and saw some game action with the Cardinals last season. I would fully expect LaRod Stephens-Howling and William Powell to see increased snaps until Wells' return. As I mentioned above, Williams will receive an increased workload, but they still don't want to increase his work too much.
Even though Wells is coming off of a 1,000-yard season in 2011, it's pretty much impossible to think Whisenhunt's offense will take a hit with him out. With the Cardinals already toward the bottom of the league in total offense, I could see Williams' increased reps giving the offense the spark it needs to kick it up a notch.