Cards' Wells shows promise in season opener

Arizona RB Beanie Wells struggled through a disappointing 2010 campaign but showed promise in last week's opening win against Carolina.

It's easy to assume the Cardinals were showing considerable faith in running back Beanie Wells when they traded Tim Hightower to the Redskins shortly after the start of training camp.

But really, what the team was doing was challenging Wells, again, and showing faith in Ryan Williams, the second-round pick out of Virginia Tech.

The Cardinals didn't see a need for keeping three potential starters throughout training camp, so they dealt Hightower for defensive end Vonnie Holliday and a conditional draft pick.

That's not a lot in return for Hightower, the starter for most of the previous two seasons. But coaches were down on Hightower because of a fumbling problem.

They weren't that much higher on Wells, who suffered through injuries in his first two seasons.

Williams was expected to challenge Wells, and the rookie looked explosive until he suffered a torn patellar tendon in the preseason.

With Hightower gone, that left Wells as the starter, if only by attrition.

It's no how the Cardinals ideally wanted the position to work. It's also been Ken Whisenhunt's opinion that players improve if they're pushed for playing time.

That's especially true with Wells. Coaches have searched for factors that motivate him, which makes Wells smile. The ball, he said, is what motivates him.

Wells has his best chance to prove he's an elite back. Chester Taylor was signed as a backup, but at 32, it's questionable if he's going to contend for the featured back spot.

The position is Wells' to lose, and he showed positive signs of hanging on to it the first game. He gained 90 yards on 18 carries, a five-yard average, but he did drop a pitch near the goal line.

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