Is Cards' Wells ready to be starting RB?

Beanie Wells (Getty)

Since being Arizona's top pick two years ago, Beanie Wells has shown flashes of being a dominant running back. Injuries and inconsistencies, however, have held him back. Is 2011 a make or break season for the former Buckeye?

Size. Speed. A brutal stiff arm.

Beanie Wells is blessed with all the tools to be a great NFL running back. But in two seasons, he has failed to bring it all together and become the elite back the Arizona Cardinals envisioned when they drafted Wells in the first round of the 2009 draft.

Despite a slight case of fumblitis, Beanie was a major contributor as a rookie, rushing for 793 yards and led all rookie running backs with seven touchdowns. Arizona went on to win the NFC West for the second consecutive year. But, like the team as a whole, Wells was ineffective in 2010, averaging a yard less per carry while managing just two scores.

Musical chairs at quarterback and along the offensive line didn't help the Akron native, nor did the nagging knee injury that kept him out of three games. Wells was vocal about getting the ball more a year ago, but his demands were difficult to accommodate as the Cardinals trailed in the majority of their games.

"It was definitely a learning experience, and you can take that and equate that to life," said Wells, who is only 22. "You go through so many ups and downs, how you bounce back is the key."

"There were times I kind of lashed out a little bit and that kind of backfired," he continued. "But that's part of the learning experience. Everybody deserves some room to grow, no matter how old you are."

Wells has done and said all the right things coming into training camp this season. The coaches have noted how Wells is leaner and despite the long layoff, has reported in shape and ready to be a true starting running back.

"(Last season) was tough for Beanie. Quite frankly, he didn't handle it as well as he probably could have, and that's part of maturity," said coach Ken Whisenhunt. "He's a different player from that standpoint this year. I don't question Beanie's toughness. I have seen Beanie do things when he was nicked up. What Beanie has had to learn is you have to adapt to whatever you are faced with."

Following the trade of Tim Hightower to Washington, the Cards have put the proverbial ball in Wells' hands. While his coaches would not call this a make or break season for Wells – even with rookie Ryan Williams in the mix – Beanie certainly has something to prove in 2011.

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