Has Edgerrin James Lost His Edge?

It's too early in the season to tell for sure if running back Edgerrin James' role in the offense will diminish, but that might be the case. In his first two years in Arizona, James was the Cardinals workhorse, averaging about 330 carries a year. But those numbers have dropped this year.

Through six games, James has carried 101 times; an average of about 17 carries a game. At that pace, he'll finish with 272 carries, his lowest total since 2002 when he was with Indianapolis.

It's hard to say if the fewer number of carries is a trend or just a result of offensive schemes in a small sample of games. James carried nine times in the victory over Dallas, for instance, but had 21 the week before the victory over the Bills. He carried just nine times against Miami in Week 2, mostly because the team relied on the pass in the victory.

But there are indications too, that James' backups are assuming larger roles in the offense. Rookie Tim Hightower appears ready to become more than just the team's short-yardage and first-down back. He's more of a one-cut running back and is more explosive than James, whose strength is his vision and agility.

While Hightower doesn't have blazing speed, he appears faster than James. And it's important to note that in three seasons in Arizona, James has just four runs of 20 yards or more. And he's carried the ball 762 times.

J.J. Arrington, the team's No. 3 back, is playing a larger role on offense too. Inactive for the first four games, Arrington is an excellent situational back, and his speed makes him dangerous if the team can get him in some open space, usually through screens and draws.


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