Arizona Cardinals' Tim Hightower Is Quietly Having a Great Year

Chris FarmerCorrespondent INovember 23, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03:  Runningback Tim Hightower #34 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates after scoring a 4 yard rushing touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter of the NFC Wild Card Game on January 3, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The knock on Tim Hightower last year was that he didn't have the big play ability that the Cardinals needed out of the running back position. That is exactly why Beanie Wells was drafted in the first round, everyone assumed.

In his rookie season, despite compiling 10 rushing touchdowns, he only averaged 2.8 yards per carry. To many, this was all the proof they needed to rate Hightower a complimentary back at best .

There is no denying the excitement bubbling to the surface about Wells' immense potential, but there is another story brewing in Arizona that you shouldn't forget about;Tim Hightower is quietly having a great year.

The day after being named one of the best two running backs to play for his alma mater at the University of Richmond in its 81-year history this past Saturday, Hightower broke off a 50-yard run against the Rams, the longest by a Cardinals' back since 2004. He became the first Arizona back to top the 100-yard plateau this season by totaling 110 yards on 14 carries for a 7.9 yards per carry average.

With that output, he brought his 2009 rushing yards total up to 430 yards with five TDs and an impressive 4.2 yards per carry average, but it is his improved production in the passing game that speaks loudest regarding his outstanding value—Hightower is second in the NFL among running backs with 47 receptions, behind only Ray Rice.

He now has 773 all-purpose yards, not bad for a guy that doesn't return kicks and hardly gets a mention in the media.