Cards' Ground Game Ready to Lead the Way

With an unproven quarterback and no Anquan Boldin, head coach Ken Whisenhunt should look to his running backs more often this season.

After being ranked last and 28th in the league in rushing the past two seasons, Arizona has not been known as a juggernaut on the ground. But with each of their young running backs a year older and some added beef on the offensive line, the Cardinals should be more of a threat running the ball in 2010.

Beanie Wells had a largely successful rookie campaign, finishing second among rookie running backs with 793 yards to go along with seven touchdowns. Wells got off to a slow start in training camp due to an ankle injury and a small bout of "fumble-itis" but looks to have moved past those growing pains. Possessing blazing speed for his size and a bruising stiff arm, Wells has all the skills to be an elite rusher and this season could be his proving ground.

LaRod Stephens-Howling

Tim Hightower has established a niche for himself in the Big Red's offense as not only a valuable short yardage and goal line threat, but also a reliable receiver out of the backfield. Hightower excelled on the ground and through the air in 2009 with 598 rushing yards and 442 yards receiving. In addition, he scored eight touchdowns and proved to be a dependable asset in critical situations down the stretch. Hightower is powerful and a great change-of-pace back who should get plenty more opportunities in 2010.

As seventh-round picks go, LaRod Stephens-Howling is about as productive as they come. "The Hyphen" became a special teams standout and his speed was utilized sparingly in the passing game. Stephens-Howling lined up all over the field, spreading out defenses and creating opportunities for his teammates. Stephens-Howling's numbers were not stellar, collecting just 83 receiving yards with only 15 yards on the ground and a lone touchdown. However, Arizona showed a willingness to look his way on occasion and Stephens-Howling is likely to get more touches as he gains experience at the pro level.

This season, Matt Leinart will need as many weapons around him as the team can muster. While they are young, Arizona's running back corps demonstrates excellent promise and Leinart is expected to lean on the group throughout the year.

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