Running back Ryan Williams (34) tries to make a move on safety Adrian Wilson (24). Wilson drilled Williams with a huge hit on the play.
FLAGSTAFF – The argument came quickly about the biggest play of the Red-White practice Saturday, Ryan Williams' 44-yard run on the first series of the day.
Cornerback Patrick Peterson insisted he "tackled" Williams in the backfield, in the way the defense were tagging off on the day.
""I definitely tackled Ryan Williams," Peterson said. "Coach, the head man, said I didn't tag off on him, that's what it was." In a game, though, "I definitely don't miss him."
Said Williams, "I've never seen a tackle being swiped at the ball, so I mean, call it what you want, but …"
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he wanted to look at the tape to know for sure. But one thing that Whisenhunt can feel good about was Williams' continuing march toward a full return from his torn patella tendon.
"I don't want to say I'm back but I'm close to it," Williams said. "I took a couple of hits, went to the ground. The grass isn't the best and I was slipping on my right leg and I had one of those 'Oh' moments, but I was good."
The long run wasn't the only highlight of which Williams was part of. He was also drilled to the ground on a big hit from safety Adrian Wilson.
"I barely hit him," Wilson said. "Just want everyone want to stay healthy."
Asked Williams, "Did my run top that hit?" When he was told yes, Williams replied "Then I'm OK with it."
NAU officials estimated the crowd at 14,500, a record number and about 1,500 more fans than showed up last year.
"This is special," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "I remember coming here my first camp (in 2004) and we had to pay people to come out and watch us practice."
Said Peterson, "That's a ton of support, something we are definitely going to need this season."
RUNNING BACKS THINNING OUT
Running back Javarris James suffered an abductor strain Friday, and Whisenhunt said he could miss "a couple weeks." It will be interesting to see if the Cards make a move for the Saints game, since Beanie Wells isn't expected to play and Williams may not either. That would leave LaRod Stephens-Howling, Alfonso Smith and William Powell as the only available running backs.
Center Ryan Bartholomew, who had hurt his knee during the offseason, tweaked it Friday and sat out Saturday but Whisenhunt expects him to return early next week.
Linebacker Zach Nash (ankle), running back Beanie Wells (PUP-knee) and tight end Jeff King (PUP-quad) remain out.