The Arizona Cardinals have been dealt yet another crushing blow to their already anaemic ground game as Ryan Williams has been ruled out for the remainder of the season according to head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Williams suffered a shoulder injury during Thursday night's loss to the St. Louis Rams.
Williams initially indicated that he felt okay immediately following the game, and appeared confident that he would not be limited. Williams, it seemed needed to remain positive, after he missed the entirety of his rookie season due to a knee injury.
However, further examinations appear to have revealed more significant damage which will need surgery to correct. Though specific details were limited, Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt indicated that the injury has a recovery timetable of around three months, ending his season.
The Cardinals are already without number one running back Beanie Wells following a severe turf toe injury. Wells has been placed on IR, but under the new IR rules is designated to return. However, Wells cannot suit up until at least Thanksgiving at the earliest. Even then, there is no guarantee that he will be ready by that point, as turf toe injuries are notoriously difficult to rehabilitate, and very unpredictable.
Worse still, primary backup RB for the past few seasons LaRod Stephens-Howling has also missed time this season due to a hip flexor injury. Though the team are hopeful of his imminent return, his status for week six remains questionable, potentially leaving undrafted free agents William Powell and Alfonso Smith to man the ship.
The Cardinals have struggled to establish the run all season, but sorely need to do so in order to remove some of the pressure from Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals battered offensive line. The Cardinals passing game has been most effective when utilising play action, but as the Cardinals have increasingly given up on the run, so oppositions willingness to bite on it has been diminished.
Ken Whisenhunt, in typical fashion, refused to speculate about the future, indicating his belief in the players on roster, but refusing to rule out bringing in an outside rusher either.
The one small upside is that the Cardinals are one of only a small number of teams who still carry a traditional fullback on their roster, allowing the team to immediately beef up their running game. Using more of Anthony Sherman may allow the Cardinals to add protection for both the quarterback and inexperienced rushers, while subtly changing the dynamic of the running game, and perhaps ensuring that this part of their offense is not completely wiped out of the playbook.
The Cardinals cannot continue allow Kevin Kolb to handle the number of drop-backs asked of him, and to face the pressure he has been given recently if they hope to survive the season. Even without Wells and Williams, the Cardinals need to find a way to utilise the run more effectively. But with two young RBs both hoping to break out in the NFL, expect them to make the most of every opportunity given to them.