Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Ryan Williams was ineffective in the Arizona Cardinals' narrow win over the Miami Dolphins.
The Arizona Cardinals are 4-0 so far in 2012, but it hasn't been such a banner year for ostensible big-play running back Ryan Williams. Outside of an excellent Week 3—13 carries, 83 yards—he's run the ball 31 times for all of 48 yards. It's not been a stirring start for a top 2011 draft pick who spent all that year on the IR. If there's one thing the St. Louis Rams' newly turnover-happy defense struggles with, though, it's big plays from running backs—so will Thursday Night Football be a breakout for the Cardinals' leading rusher?
They could certainly use it. In 101 carries as a team—44 of them Williams's—the Cardinals have managed just 272 yards, for a 2.7 per-carry average. And after a Week 3 turf toe injury Beanie Wells, who rushed for 1047 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2011, is out for at least part of the season.
A remarkably efficient game from Kevin Kolb drove the offense in their blowout win over the Eagles in Week 3, but the strain showed when they had to go to him 48 times on Sunday; he threw two interceptions, to go with his three touchdowns, and finished with a middling 6.75 yards per attempt.
To some degree the Cardinals' gameplan has to be dictated by the Rams' defense's newfound pressure on all sides of opposing quarterbacks—young defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long have been joined by Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins in the secondary—and their continued inability to stop running backs as varied as Kevin Smith and Marshawn Lynch. So ready or not, Williams is likely to see more carries on Thursday.