Since being drafted in the second round (38th overall) in 2011 by the Arizona Cardinals, the story of running back Ryan Williams’ career has centered around injuries. He missed his entire rookie season after suffering a torn patella tendon in his right knee during the preseason, then he played just five games last year before a left shoulder injury ended his season.
Williams has just 58 carries for 164 yards along with seven receptions for 44 yards thus far in his NFL career, but could he get a chance to emerge this year?
The Cardinals bolstered their running back depth chart this offseason, signing Rashard Mendenhall in free agency and drafting Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington in April. Mendenhall is expected to be the starter, due at least partially to his familiarity with Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians from their time together with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he did not look particularly good last season after returning from the torn right ACL he suffered late in the 2011 season.
Williams also missed time with a right hamstring injury during his final season at Virginia Tech in 2010, so injuries are nothing new at this point. But he did have a full healthy season in 2009, rushing for 1,655 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry, so if he can stay on the field the potential to be productive seems to be there.
Mendenhall is simply not a special talent, so if Williams performs well during training camp and preseason games the Cardinals may be forced to find a way to get him on the field. The most important thing at this point for Williams is health, and 2013 is shaping up as a potential make-or-break year for him if he can get a chance to play.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.