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Setting A Running Standard

Posted Oct 5, 2011

Wells, Cards getting physical with the ground game

Running back Beanie Wells finishes off plowing over Giants' Corey Webster (23) and Greg Jones for a touchdown last weekend at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The helmet of Giants defensive back Corey Webster went flying off and linebacker Greg Jones fell backward as Beanie Wells put down his shoulder and drove himself into the end zone.

One yard was all it counted for, although it was also worth six points. It was worth more than that, actually, with the image of Webster and Jones being trucked by the Cardinals running back sticking with everyone in University of Phoenix Stadium.

“It’s setting a standard,” Wells said. “How you are going to come and how you are going to play the game.”

Beanie ball provided 138 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 27 attempts against the Giants, helping him to career-highs in every category. But it was the way Wells collected most of those yards that may have signaled something much more important for both him and the Cards.

The Giants’ defensive front seven has always been a strength, yet Wells plowed into them – and through them – multiple times. He broke out the stiff arm multiple times. He gained tough yards, which allowed him to bounce outside and get some perimeter yards when the Giants wanted to collapse inside.

It wasn’t enough to provide a win – which Wells was still grumpy about Wednesday – but “it shows our potential,” quarterback Kevin Kolb said.

Wells was doing it at less than 100 percent, too, with his lingering hamstring issue (Wells was limited in practice again Wednesday). Even though he has missed a game because of that hamstring, Wells already has 321 yards rushing on 59 carries and an NFL-leading five rushing touchdowns.

What’s more is the way Wells is getting his yards, with a physical, run-them-over style that seems to be a per-play answer for his critics who have considered him not tough enough.

“It demoralizes the defense,” said tackle Jeremy Bridges, who filled in for most of the game against the Giants when Brandon Keith suffered a knee injury. “When you get six, seven (yards) a clip, and you’re running the ball and they know you’re going to run the ball, and they can stop it, it just takes the heart out of them. That’s the fun of it.”

The ability for the Cards to bring that with them to Minnesota will mean a lot Sunday. The Vikings are winless, but one thing they have done well is slow the run. In four games, they have given up just 305 yards rushing. Defensive end Jared Allen said the Lions “couldn’t even run the ball against us” and the Vikings run defense has been one of their bright spots.

“Against the run,” Allen said, “I think we’re doing all right.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt acknowledged confidence grows with such a performance, but that the Cards need to learn how to pass more consistently to give themselves an out when Wells isn’t quite as effective.

“Defensive coaches aren’t going to let you run the ball down their throat, week in and week out,” guard Rex Hadnot said. “No matter what play is called, as an offensive line, we should be able to execute it and execute it at a high level.”

When Wells has had a chance to run this season, the unit has seemed to execute it pretty well. It’s a consistency that’s been absent in that part of the offense for a few years.

Running over Webster wasn’t enough for Beanie, who did make sure to stare down over his fallen opponent when it was over and mention – politely, right? – his dominance.

“It’s part of my running style,” Wells said. “It’s always been part of what I like to do.”


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