With Ryan Williams out for the year and Beanie Wells not back until late November at the earliest, the Cardinals are left with a giant question mark at a position which had good depth heading into the season.
ESPN's Adam Schefter said on Sportscenter this morning that he thinks William Powell will "likely" get the first try at being the team's starter at running back. LaRod Stephens-Howling and Alfonso Smith are the two other running backs on Arizona's roster.
"Unfamiliar name right now to some people, but he did lead the NFL in rushing this preseason, and there's a buzz in the Cardinals' organization about him. The players believe he can do it. He'll have to prove he can during the regular season. But there are some people in the Cardinals' organization who believe Powell can get the job done for Arizona," Schefter said of Powell during the broadcast.
Before the start of the preseason slate of games, Powell was just another body in training camp. After showing some things in his first season in Arizona, Alfonso Smith was expected to be the Cardinals #3 running back behind Wells and Williams, but Powell outplayed Smith in five preseason contests to earn a roster spot.
In five games, Powell had 249 rush yards and three rushing TD's on only 42 carries, good for 5.9 yards per touch. Powell showed an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well as he had five receptions for 40 yards. A lot of those stats did come against third string defenses though.
Giving Powell the first shot at running back makes some sense. He is bigger than Stephens-Howling meaning he can handle more carries and he is shiftier and tougher to tackle in the open field than Smith is.
Only time will tell if the Cardinals confidence in Powell will pay off. If it doesn't and Stephens-Howling or Smith don't step up, Arizona will have to go out and add another running back to the roster.