Is Tim Hightower Edging James Out Of Arizona?

Tim Hightower (Newman Lowrance Getty

Could this be the week that rookie Tim Hightower starts at running back over Edgerrin James? It seems doubtful, but Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt isn't ruling out that Hightower could move ahead of James at some point this year.

It would be a monumental move, given Edgerrin James' stature. He's started every game of his career, 135 and counting, is 13 yards short of the 12,000-yard mark for his career and needs 88 yards to pass Thurman Thomas for the 12th spot on the all-time list.

"It's cool with me," James said this week on the prospect of Hightower getting more snaps. "That's the way it was heading anyway."

In the last two weeks, James has carried 16 times while Hightower has 13, so it's not like either one is getting a ton of carries. The Cardinals' strength is in its passing game, so they are never going to be a run-oriented attack as long as they have Kurt Warner at quarterback and Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald at receivers.

James has expressed frustration at his diminishing role and said this week that he feels like the team has "put me in a position to fail."

Coaches have refrained from criticizing James, and Whisenhunt has insisted James still has an integral role on this offense. But coaches want a back who can deliver big plays, and that's not James. Hightower doesn't have great speed, but he has good quickness and has a good burst to the hole.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--WR Larry Fitzgerald has had some big games against the Rams. In two games last year, he caught 20 passes for 307 yards and scored two touchdowns.

--RB Edgerrin James is to be phased out of this offense. Rookie Tim Hightower likely will continue to get more carries at the expense of James.

--RB Tim Hightower has six rushing touchdowns, the most by a Cardinals rookie since Ronald Moore had nine in 1993.

--QB Kurt Warner is on pace to finish the season with about 4,800 passing yards and 32 touchdowns.

--TE Leonard Pope (ankle, foot) will miss his second straight game on Sunday.

--TE Ben Patrick (knee) didn't practice Thursday after experiencing some swelling after a Wednesday workout.

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