The Case for Edgerrin James

Edgerrin James rushed himself to 12th place on the league all-time rushing list on Sunday, in the Cardinals 34-21 win over the Seattle Seahawks. James was playing for pride, playoff carries, a win and everything in between. But who should start in round one of the Cardinals' first postseason appearance in 10 years?

The Cardinals are going to be plenty jealous of the Atlanta Falcons' ground game in round one of the playoffs. The Cardinals first round opponent boasts LaDainian Tomlinson's former backup, Michael Turner, who has proved with nearly 1,700 yards to date that he is nobody's backup.

Atlanta will expect Turner to burn through the Cardinals whose run defense ranks 16th in the league, allowing 111.8 yards a game. But how will Arizona's own rushing strike fair against Atlanta?

Well, the Cardinals average per carry is the lowest in the league (3.3). In yards per game, they also rank last. Last season, they were in the bottom five in both categories, but at least they weren't dead last.

It's no secret that Kurt Warner would like to throw the ball as much as humanly possible. His arm and the Cardinals deep threats, give the Cardinals the best opportunity to win. But Ken Whisenhunt knows he needs a more balance attack to be a respectable ball club.

Last offseason, the Cardinals understood that Edgerrin James, who averaged 3.8 yards per carry, needed some help in the backfield. Despite registering a 1,200-yard plus season, the Cardinals needed a back with home run ability.

Enter rookie running back Tim Hightower. His resume didn't quite read explosive back, but the Cardinals liked what they saw out of the small school running back. He won the Cardinals' hearts when he tacked on six touchdowns in seven games.

In his eighth game in the National Football League, Hightower got the nod over James whose numbers slipped form 100-yard games to less than 30 over the course of the first seven weeks.

But Hightower has hit a similar wall. The rookie slump has bitten Hightower hard. In the past five games, he has one TD.

James put on a good show in week 16 and earned the starting bid in the regular season finale. James saw a familiar amount of carries, 14. The 10-year veteran played his heart out and put 100 yards on his stat sheet, along with a 7.1 average per carry.

So who should get the starting bid in the playoffs?

James has fresh legs heading into the playoffs, where as Hightower has never played in this amount of consecutive games in his life.

A pure look at the numbers states James is the Cardinals' man. Hightower has been unable to give the Cardinals any burst, he's struggled to find the holes and he hasn't found the end zone since week 14.

James appears to give the Cardinals their best opportunity to win.

But mum seems to be the word for the starting position.

"I'm certainly not down on Tim Hightower," Whisenhunt said. "But we'll prepare for Atlanta and see what we feel is the best fit for us going forward."


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