2013 Arizona Cardinals Training Camp Player to Watch: Rashard Mendenhall

By Ryan Heckman


Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the Arizona Cardinals get set to begin their 2013 training camp this week, the team will look quite a bit different offensively and fans cannot wait to see what head coach Bruce Arians has in store for the new faces.

Having a brand new starting quarterback in Carson Palmer has fans much more excited than they were last year having to deal with some of the poorest quarterback play in the NFL. While Palmer isn’t necessarily a top-notch quarterback, he will be a significant improvement especially when it comes to getting the ball to All Pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald.

One of the more interesting guys to watch during camp will be Rashard Mendenhall, coming over from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Throughout his career, Mendenhall has shown that he can be the every down back that he was at Illinois. He’s a good-sized back with versatility, especially in the short passing game. He not only can run between the tackles well, but can do some damage off of a short screen play.

If Mendenhall can stay healthy, he will prove to be one of the best acquisitions of the offseason. The Cardinals haven’t had a legitimate running game for quite some time, last season having to swap between guys who were injured at times.

In five seasons, Mendenhall has missed 23 games total, playing full seasons in his second and third year. In those two years when he was healthy, he combined for over 2,300 yards and 20 touchdowns. There’s no doubt the Cardinals would thrive much more offensively if Mendenhall can revert back to form.

At this moment, Mendenhall appears at number one on the depth chart with second year pro Ryan Williams right behind him. Williams missed 11 games last season due to injury, so again, health will be important all through the running back position.

Taking some pressure off of Palmer and Fitzgerald will be crucial if the Cardinals are going to produce some points in 2013, and Mendenhall can certainly do that. The only question is, if he can stay healthy and in shape. If he does that, Arizona will look much better this season in comparison to last year.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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