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2009 Arizona Cardinals Preview: Running Backs


Over the next 10 days I will preview the 2009 Arizona Cardinals position by position as they prepare to head up the hill to Flagstaff for training camp in 11 days, with the first practice now only 13 days away.  Today, I will take a look at the Arizona Cardinals running backs.

In 2008 this position was definitely an achilles heal for the Cardinals.  The Cardinals had early season spark from Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower, then Edge became a forgotten man while Hightower had a couple of games where he showed his true potential in the NFL.  Unfortunately the potential was still there but the Cards abandoned the running game quicker than Debbie Rowe abandoned the kids she had for Michael Jackson.

What’s gone from the 2008 backfield:

Edgerrin James.  It really is unfortunate that things didn’t work out better for Edge here in Arizona.  However Edge and Arizona fit just about as well as Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley did.  It was a nice story for awhile, but after time, you could see it was really just all for show, even if there was a little truth to the saga.  Edge’s time clearly was done half way through 2008 when he was benched for the rookie Tim Hightower.

What’s new in the 2009 backfield:

Chris “Beanie” Wells. This Ohio State product, who has been prone to injuries, is a banger with decent speed.  He was the best available running back left at number 31 in the 2009 NFL Draft.  Although I was not initially in favor of picking Wells, as time has worn on since the draft, Wells in my mind had to be the choice.  First of all, the Cardinals are lucky that such a talent fell as far as he did.  That was most likely due to his injuries, which was the main concern for me.  However, after listening to him in interviews and looking at the overall picture and the state of the Arizona Cardinals running game, this is a win-win for both the team and the fans.  He’s the real deal and as long as he stays healthy, so should the Cards running game.

What to expect from the Cardinals running game in 2009:

The Cardinals should be a better team in the backfield this season.  With the addition of Wells, the Cards may have a very good 1-2 punch in Hightower and Wells.  There will be a good fight for the third guy and that will come from the group of rookie Jason Wright from Northwestern, LaRod Stephens-Howling from Pittsburgh, and Chris Vincent from Oregon.  I like Wright.  However, that’s why they have training camp, anything can happen!

Also, from the fullback position, Tim Castille should be the man there.  He can move well for a fullback.  He has decent hands and can move a pile when he needs to.

Fantasy value:

A tough one to gague right now.  I definitely wouldn’t go out and pick either Wells or Hightower as your starter, although Hightower had a high value last season by scoring 10 touchdowns.  He was the man inside the 10-yard line.  That’s where you get your points and Hightower will probably end up being the man once again for short yardage situations.  You could gamble and take one of these guys for your bench, but until the Cardinals can show they consistently produce results on the ground, don’t bet the farm on them just yet.