No Full House For Cards' Fullbacks

The Arizona Cardinals offseason features some intriguing battles, but none is more wide open than the battle at fullback. With three designated fullbacks to their roster and not much intrigue separating them, the Cardinals are looking for their wild card.

Last year, conservative play calling was the name of the game when Matt Leinart was on the field. This year, the cautious play calling from Ken Whisenhunt will continue until Leinart earns his coach's confidence. That said; expect Whisenhunt to finally reach that 50-50 pass/rush ratio he's sought since day one.

The Cardinals running backs group is well equipped to handle more running plays. Beanie Wells produced nearly 900 yards (playoffs included) his freshman try even without an official start to his name. While Tim Hightower hung on to his primary ball carrier role on paper, Wells was the one carrying the ball more toward the latter part of the season. While the Cardinals enjoyed the two-back system, the young players will vie for that primary role, which can only help the Cardinals.

While both backs can break tackles, the Cardinals need a fullback to open lanes. Arizona isn't above putting a defensive player in to do the job, but those tricks are once a season. With no named fullback starter, Nehemiah Broughton, Charles Ali and Reagan Maui'a all boast a legitimate shot at nabbing the role.


On paper, Ali is the front-runner. He's stuck around the league because he blocks well and hits hard. He's appeared in the most games than any of the Cardinals fullback trio with 28 appearances in two seasons with the Browns, followed by a one-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens, where he had sideline duty.

Maui'a is next in line. He boasts 18 appearances and 11 starts in two seasons but hasn't seen game time since 2008. The Northern California native keeps his name on the Cardinals list of possibilities because of his commanding run blocking, but he hasn't been a presence in pre-training camp practices because of a strained groin.

Looking to take advantage of Maui'a's absence is Broughton who once appeared in six games in two years for the Washington Redskins and hasn't seen regular-season game time since 2006. The Cardinals will want to see Broughton move the pile on every play. He is a bruiser, but the Cardinals will need help in both long and short yardage situations. The Cardinals will check under the hood to see if he is their all-around guy.

If the Cardinals don't see any of their fullback trio fit to start, RB Jason Wright could be a viable option. He's been the substitute in the past. The Cardinals could still go knocking on other doors, as the Cardinals could run like their season depended on it.


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