Williams' injury puts Cards in backfield bind

Beanie Wells (Getty)

The loss of rookie RB Ryan Williams leaves the Cardinals' once crowded backfield depleted heading into the regular season.

The Cardinals will search for help at running back after rookie Ryan Williams suffered a torn patellar tendon in his right knee against the Packers.

Williams is expected to undergo surgery soon, and he is out for the season. Doctors anticipate a full recovery, but that's a season away.

The Cardinals need help now, although coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn't see it as a desperate.

Williams was backing up Beanie Wells, and Whisenhunt is a proponent of a two-back system. Wells has not been durable in his first two seasons, suffering ankle and knee injuries.

The team traded Tim Hightower to the Redskins at the beginning of camp, which was a surprise. It was obvious a running back had to go from the time the team took Williams in the second round. But it was thought the Cardinals might not make the trade until well into camp, just to cover themselves in the event of injury.

LaRod Stephens-Howling is the backup now to Wells now, but at 5-feet-7 and 185 pounds, Stephens-Howling is too small to replace Wells for an extended time.

Alfonso Smith is the only other back on the roster. As a rookie, he spent most of last season on the practice squad. Only 208 pounds, Smith isn't a physical runner, but he's improved running between the tackles and he has enough speed to get outside.

The Cardinals did re-sign William Powell, an undrafted rookie out of Kansas State who was released Aug. 2.

Coaches think he has potential, but the Cardinals need to add a running back.

Whisenhunt said filling that job could be "a process."

That suggests the player the team adds first might not be one who makes the 53-man roster. The Cardinals will monitor the waiver wire closely. The Bears' Chester Taylor makes sense, as does the Cowboys' Tashard Choice.

There are questions if those two backs figure into the plans of their current teams.

Losing Williams is a big blow to Arizona, even though he was a rookie. He had been impressive in camp, showed incredible quickness and cutting ability.

His upbeat personality had won over teammates, who surrounded him on the cart that carried him off Lambeau Field.

"The biggest thing was, we were all very excited about him," said quarterback Kevin Kolb. "We've seen some stuff he's done in the game and a lot of stuff he's done in practice and kind of kid he is.

"As an athlete, you hate to see that for any athlete, no matter if he's in green and yellow or in our colors."

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