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Arizona Cardinals: 5 Free Agents to Replace Ryan Williams

Roberto PayneContributor IAugust 21, 2011

Arizona Cardinals: 5 Free Agents to Replace Ryan Williams

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    Yesterday, the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Green Bay Packers 28-20 in a game that should have been meaningless.

    But it was the contrary, very meaningful.

    Rookie Running Back Ryan Williams was injured on a basic rushing attempt and coaches are fearing the worst. 

    Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt has said he fears a ruptured patella tendon, and it would be the end of the rookie's season if that is the case.

    When this injury is coupled with the trading away of Tim Hightower, it leaves the Cards depleted at Running Back.

    They will almost certainly look for a free agent to replace Williams and there are a couple decent options out there.  Read on for five free agents who could be getting a call from the Cards very soon.

5. Julius Jones

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    Julius Jones has been in the league for seven years and is on the tail end of his career. 

    Jones is a speedy back with the ability to shoot through a gap and run for a long time. 

    While Jones is rather diminutive, he is able to use linemen as shields when running through the line.  He is especially dangerous on the outside and uses his speed to run for big gains.

    Even though Jones has good speed, he should be one of the lower options for the Cardinals.

4. Fred Taylor

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    Fred Taylor is a shell of what he used to be.

    He is no longer the 1,000 yard per season rusher and the explosive player he was in his earlier playing days.  Taylor still has the raw skill to be a good number two running back but he has been battling injuries the past two seasons and has only played in 13 games.

    It would be better if Taylor had a smaller workload but in Arizona, the number two back needs to be reliable for a decent amount of carries.

    I'm not sure how healthy Taylor is, but, he does fit the role and the Cardinals could use his name to attract more fans to the stadium.  Maybe not too many but people are bound to want to see one of the better players of a generation play, even if he is older.

3. Kevin Smith

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    Kevin Smith had a very good rookie season in 2008 (976 yards and 8 touchdowns) but has since had knee injuries the two following seasons.

    When he was healthy, Smith showed good vision up the field and could occasionally make a big run.  He isn't as explosive as other backs, but he is smart and uses his athleticism well.

    Smith could be a decent pickup for the Cards but his injury problems could be the deciding factor in how well he plays. 

    If healthy, the Cards should see how he is but if not healthy, they need to stay far away from Smith.

2. Laurence Maroney

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    When Laurence Maroney was a New England Patriot, he was supposed to be the future

    But things didn't work out and he was traded to the Denver Broncos last season.  In Denver, he was listed as the fourth string HB and only had 36 rushing attempts all season.

    Maroney has shown flashes of brilliance and could be exactly what the Cardinals need. 

    The good thing about the possible addition of Maroney is that he would not be expected to be the featured back.  It would allow him to focus more on running well and not on whether or not his job was in jeopardy. 

    When healthy, Maroney can be a very dynamic running back and with the proper guidance from the coaching staff, he could be a low risk/high reward pickup.

1. Brian Westbrook

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    Brian Westbrook was one of the better running backs in the league, until recently, and he is the best available free agent running backs.

    Westbrook was the backup to Frank Gore in San Francisco last season and he will probably be looking for a similar role. 

    He could be exactly what the Cards need, he is pretty similar to what was lost in Ryan Williams.  Westbrook has the quickness to perform like Williams and he is a very good pass catcher out of the backfield.

    Westbrook needs to be the first running back contacted and his addition would be huge for the Cardinals.  It would give Beanie Wells a veteran mentor and someone who is capable of performing when asked upon.

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