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RB, Wells Claims He’s the Healthiest He’s Been All Year

The Cardinals' 2009 first round draft selection, Beanie Wells, has so far failed to deliver on his expected break out season in 2010 due to repeated injuries

Arizona expected big things out of Beanie Wells when they drafted with the 31st overall pick in 2009, but his young career has been a series of highs and lows thus far.

Wells was tardy showing up to the Cardinals’ off-season activities during his rookie year, though it was no fault of his own since Ohio State’s school calender cut into the Cards’ off-season schedule.  Still, when Wells finally did arrive, he suffered an ankle injury during his very first practice with the team.  It was an injury that severely limited him during a critical development period.  As a result, Wells was relegated to a large amount of “on the job training” as the 2009 season wore on.

The first half of Wells’ rookie campaign didn’t go quite as he would have liked.  Tim Hightower was getting most of the carries and Wells suffered through a fumbling problem, which prompted Ken Whisenhunt to quickly revoke what little trust Wells had engendered.  Despite a very mediocre first half, Wells finished with a very impressive 793 yards on 176 carries for a 4.5 average and 7 touchdowns.  In addition, 544 of his 793 yards were gained after contact.  Further, Wells avoided/broke 24 tackles while only carrying the ball 176 times (league lead was 50 on 315 carries by Adrian Peterson).  Only Ronnie Brown and Michael Turner broke/avoided more tackles with less than 200 carries.

It seemed natural, therefore, that the 2010 season would be Wells’ breakout year.  It was a relatively safe bet and one that most people with knowledge of the Cardinals backed, including Ken Whisenhunt.  “We all thought coming into this season it was going to be a big year [for Wells],” Whisenhunt explained.  “I don’t think that we’ve seen all that we’re going to see out of Beanie, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

One of Wells’ pre-draft concerns, injury, has reared its ugly head once again, largely derailing his breakout campaign.  Since training camp this summer, Wells has dealt with three separate injury issues.  First, he injured his ribs during training camp on an incidental hit during drills.  The injury was minor and healed relatively quickly.  It didn’t hold him out of any significant activities as it was during training camp.  Second, Wells tore the meniscus in his right knee during the final game of the pre-season, which was the most serious injury of his young career so far.  Initially, the injury was reported as minor and would not cause Wells to miss any significant time.  After the fact, however, it was revealed that Wells did indeed tear his meniscus and surgery was performed, which caused him to miss the first two games of the season this year.  Third and finally, two weeks ago before the Week 9 game against the Vikings, Wells suffered an allergic reaction to an injected lubricant that was reportedly a routine treatment procedure commonly administered to meniscus-tear related injuries.  Steve Breaston underwent the same procedure with no ill effect whatsoever.  Wells had just one carry against Minnesota and did not dress against Seattle in Week 10.  Now, with the Cardinals at 3-6 and facing very long odds to get back into the division race, perhaps the long awaited emergence of Beanie Wells is something Cardinals fans can look forward to, assuming Wells is finally healthy.

If we’re to believe the Cardinals’ report of Wells’ status, which is getting difficult, Wells is the healthiest he’s been all season.  Apparently, Wells feels that he is 100% ready physically and hasn’t felt this good since training camp.  Wells believes he will add the “x-factor” that the running game has been lacking when he returns to the field at full capacity.  “I’d like to think I’m a piece of puzzle in the running game, and when I’m not out there, I don’t think we’re running to our capabilities,” Wells explained.  “I haven’t been fully healthy all year.  Now it feels great.”

While it makes little sense to do so considering all the unaccounted for variables, I can’t help but wonder what a full season of Beanie Wells as a healthy feature back might look like statistically.  According to career numbers, Wells has a 4.2 yards/carry (1,024 yards on 246 carries) with 9 touchdowns.  If we give Wells 25 carries a game, which honestly is a little high in today’s passing NFL but not totally uncommon, it would aggregate to 105 yards per game or 1,680 yards in a full 16 game schedule.  This would obviously be a monumental achievement, particularly for the Cardinals.  If Wells gets 20 carries per game, which is closer to a realistic mark, it would equal 84 yards per game or 1,344 yards in a full 16 game season.  Wells’ high this season is 20 carries for just 35 yards against the Saints in Week 5 for a terrible 1.8 yards/carry.  Obviously, that’s an anomaly, but such anomalies illustrate that reality often resists projections, but it’s still fun to speculate.

There’s no speculation that the Cardinals need Wells to bounce back from his slow start this year.  Against the Chiefs we may finally get to see a fully healthy Beanie Wells, which at least would be an encouraging sight in these troubling times.

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