The Arizona Cardinals, once thought to be likely to carry only four running backs, decided to actually carry five on the roster after running back Ryan Williams re-emerged over the last two preseason games as a viable threat. It could end up be a running back by committee, something the Denver Broncos have made famous over the years.
Running backs: Andre Ellington, Rashard Mendenhall, Alfonso Smith, Stepfan Taylor, Ryan Williams
Mendenhall, if healthy, should be the starter. His health though is a big what if. If not for his injuries, he’d most likely still be starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s on a make-good contract this year. However, he did have a scare last week when he had to have an MRI. It was negative and he should be ready for week one.
Smith is a workhorse who will give you the carries when you need them. Taylor, a rookie from Stanford, was impressive in the preseason. Ellington, also a rookie, will probably not see a ton of carries early in the season but should still see some action.
Then there is Williams. Williams, who had missed most of camp prior to the third preseason game, was thought to be an after-thought. Many thought he was done, including yours truly. He ran the ball well against the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos in the final two games, showing the potential that got him drafted in 2011 in the first place. He’s another ‘if’. If he stays healthy, then he should share the bulk of the running load with Mendenhall.