Running back Beanie Wells rushed for 793 yards as a rookie.
Camelback was calling.
Beanie Wells was sitting in front of his locker Wednesday morning getting on his workout gear, prepping for a climb up the famed local mountain with strength and conditioning coach John Lott. Wells had learned about climbing as a rookie, and while the running back could avoid such things as a second-year player, he wouldn't.
"I don't know if I enjoy it," Beanie said with a grin, "but I need it."
It's early in the offseason. There are plenty of months left before training camp, and the offseason conditioning program doesn't begin full tilt until Monday. But Wells has already been a semi-regular visitor in Tempe (including one previous Camelback Mountain trip) as he prepares for what should be a whole new world.
The retirement of quarterback Kurt Warner should alter how the Cardinals approach their offense this season. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has cautioned that the Cards won't suddenly run the ball all of the time, but it's hard to believe that – given the production of both Wells and Tim Hightower – the running game won't have a larger role.
"We have shown progress in the run game," Whisenhunt said, "and it gives us optimism going forward that we can be more balanced."
Wells certainly sees that. He only had 176 carries as a rookie (for 793 yards), while Hightower had 143 (for 598). Both averaged more than four yards a carry. When Warner stepped away, Wells acknowledged he couldn't help but think more responsibility would fall to him.
"That's why I am going up Camelback right now," Wells said. "I know it's going to be a long season and I need to be in shape. Have to be ready to tote that pill."
Wells added he "definitely" felt he has become one of the Cards' centerpieces on offense. He made mention a few times last season he thrived on heavy workloads in games, although Whisenhunt has made clear he likes using multiple backs to keep his players fresh, productive and injury-free.
Wells is trying to use the offseason to get an even better start to his sophomore season. His rookie offseason was slowed when he couldn't participate in most offseason work thanks to Ohio State's late end to the school year.
This year, without a draft for which to prepare, he feels like he's already had a ton of free time. It makes Wells that much more anxious to get started on his football work.
One thing Wells isn't thinking about is his own draft experience a year ago, when he lasted until the 31st pick of the first round and running backs Knowshon Moreno and Donald Brown each were selected ahead of him.
"I think God put me where He wanted me to be and that's in Arizona," Wells said. "I am happy here. There's beautiful weather, great teammates, a great coaching staff and hopefully, I'm looking forward to a great career."
But first, Camelback awaits.
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