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It’s sad to watch an NFL career plummet before it gets going, but Ryan Williams is doing this to himself. If he cannot play through a bit of knee soreness, he may find himself out of work very soon.
There’s Smith, who has had a great camp to this point. He carried 12 times for just 21 yards (1.8 yards per carry) in Green Bay, but much of his running woes fell on the offensive line not creating lanes for him.
Then, there’s rookie Stepfan Taylor, who has impressed at camp throughout and seems to be the riser in this situation. He carried 20 times for 64 yards (3.2 YPC) against the Packers, and though he is not a burner, he’s very patient and has unbelievable vision.
Taylor also was the team’s best pass-blocker at Lambeau, earning a plus-0.8 rating from PFF.
Andre Ellington sat out Friday’s game, but he had shown an ability to squeeze through small running lanes and come out the other side unscathed during practice. He left practice last Tuesday with an apparent head injury and missed Wednesday’s session as well as the trip to Green Bay.
Williams’ fate is up to him. If healthy, he can be a productive three-down back in the NFL. But will he ever be healthy?
Is any NFL running back ever truly “healthy?”
Dings and bruises happen weekly in the trenches, and you have to be tough enough to play through them. Say what you will about former Cardinals back Beanie Wells, but he rushed for 1,047 yards two years ago on an injured knee that required surgery following the season.
At some point, Williams will have to decide how much pain he is willing to bear. His pain tolerance is not known, nor is the amount of actual pain he’s feeling in the knee.
But if he assumes he can ride the bench during the preseason as a precaution and be ready for the regular season, he is sorely mistaken. Doing so could leave him unemployed.