It's easy to assume the Cardinals were showing considerable faith in running back Beanie Wells when they traded Tim Hightower to the Redskins shortly after the start of training camp.
But really, what the team was doing was challenging Wells, again, and showing faith in Ryan Williams, the second-round pick out of Virginia Tech.
The Cardinals didn't see a need for keeping three potential starters throughout training camp, so they dealt Hightower for defensive end Vonnie Holliday and a conditional draft pick.
That's not a lot in return for Hightower, the starter for most of the previous two seasons. But coaches were down on Hightower because of a fumbling problem.
They weren't that much higher on Wells, who suffered through injuries in his first two seasons.
Williams was expected to challenge Wells, and the rookie looked explosive until he suffered a torn patellar tendon in the preseason.
With Hightower gone, that left Wells as the starter, if only by attrition.
It's no how the Cardinals ideally wanted the position to work. It's also been Ken Whisenhunt's opinion that players improve if they're pushed for playing time.
That's especially true with Wells. Coaches have searched for factors that motivate him, which makes Wells smile. The ball, he said, is what motivates him.
Wells has his best chance to prove he's an elite back. Chester Taylor was signed as a backup, but at 32, it's questionable if he's going to contend for the featured back spot.
The position is Wells' to lose, and he showed positive signs of hanging on to it the first game. He gained 90 yards on 18 carries, a five-yard average, but he did drop a pitch near the goal line.
Cards' Wells shows promise in season opener
CardinalsSource Top Stories
2016 in review: Alex OkaforArizona Cardinals' outside linebacker Alex Okafor suffered a serious injury during training camp but elected to play through the pain in 2016.
CardinalsSourceYesterday at 1:54 PM
2016 in review: Chandler JonesThe Arizona Cardinals made headlines around the NFL last offseason with their acquisition of pass-rushing specialist Chandler Jones.
CardinalsSourceTuesday at 8:09 AM
Cardinals eye Kizer in latest mock draftsIn the latest mock draft from NFL.com, the Arizona Cardinals are slated to select Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer with the 13th overall pick.
CardinalsSourceMonday at 7:18 AM
Keim explains offseason processIn a radio interview Friday morning, Arizona Cardinals' general manager Steve Keim offered his thoughts on the team's offseason progress thus far and explained what he's doing to…
CardinalsSourceFriday at 7:59 AM
2016 in review: Markus GoldenArizona Cardinals' pass rusher Markus Golden finished his second season in the NFL tied for third in the league in sacks with 12.5.
CardinalsSourceFriday at 7:23 AM