Rookie running back Beanie Wells said his carries don't matter as much as him feeling like he is contributing to victories.
As usual, Beanie Wells said a prayer before the Cardinals played the Giants.
"I said, 'God, if this is the day I have a big game, fine. But let me go have fun and let me do what I do,' " the rookie running back recounted this week.
And that's what happened. Wells had his best game – an impressive 67 yards on 14 attempts, and one carry lost five yards – and scored his first touchdown. It wasn't a 120-yard performance, and despite scoring his first NFL touchdown it's not like he got to the end zone multiple times.
But it definitely worked for Beanie.
What's important to him is "more feeling like I am contributing," Wells said. "To feel like you played a part in a team victory, that's the main thing for me."
Coach Ken Whisenhunt already emphasized earlier this week that he will continue to use a running back rotation, including starter Tim Hightower and Jason Wright. Wells' fumbling issue – he's dropped four in 49 carries, although he's only lost one – doesn't help either.
"Obviously he has to show us that we can trust him, especially in critical situations," Whisenhunt said.
But Whisenhunt is also sure a big game is coming for Beanie at some point this season, and quarterback Kurt Warner spoke for many Cardinals when he said "the sky's the limit as far as what (Beanie) can do."
"He's catching balls out of the backfield and getting more comfortable in protections," Warner said. "That's going to be the key. How is he used? How do we use him and Tim and the combination of the two of them?"
Hightower remains an important piece of the offense, continuing to show his skills as a pass receiver, short-yardage back (he got the touchdown carry on the Giants' 1-yard line) and blocker. He will get a good chunk of plays, meaning it will be tough for Wells to pile up enough carries to often have electrifying statistics.
Wells insisted that doesn't bother him.
"At the beginning I thought about it a lot more," Wells said. "But now, I feel like if the big games come, they come, if it doesn't, it doesn't. I just want to play and have fun like I did last week. If the big plays happen, so be it. I'll enjoy those as well."
ROLLE BACK AS CARDS STAY HEALTHY
Safety Antrel Rolle (foot) was back at practice on a limited basis Friday, and while Whisenhunt said the Cards will have to see how the injury responds to the work Saturday, it looks like Rolle will be available.
In fact, of the four players listed as questionable for Sunday – including wide receiver Anquan Boldin (ankle), defensive end Kenny Iwebema (knee) and tight end Stephen Spach (ankle) – only Spach looks like he may need more time.
"It's been my experience, not just here, but when you are having success and you're playing well, guys want to get back," Whisenhunt said. "You feed off the excitement, you feed off the emotion and it's fun. We have all seen the big difference in our players' demeanor the last three weeks and that helps.
"It's a Catch-22, because when you're not doing well and guys get injured, it's tougher sometimes to get guys back. But this is the good side of it."
Whisenhunt said the mentality of the team has shifted, which helps with injury situations. Wide receiver Steve Breaston (knee) and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle) are both listed as probable.
GAME SELLS OUT, NO BLACKOUT
The Cardinals officially sold out their game Sunday, meaning it will be broadcast live on local television. It's the 38th straight sellout at University of Phoenix Stadium, and the Cards have never had a blackout for a home game since moving into their new building (A few select tickets remain available for those interested).
That's good news for the local Fox affiliate, since the Cards have averaged a 21.1 rating and 38 share this season for their games on TV, an increase of 35 percent over last year – the largest jump in the NFL.
Every one of the six Cardinals' games this season has ranked as the most-watched TV program for the week in the Phoenix area. The Sunday night game against the Giants got a 25.6 rating and 40 share locally, reaching about 480,000 households. The Cards average 394,000 homes for their televised games.
The Cardinals play at home for the first time in three weeks, and have enjoyed more success away from Arizona – 3-0 on the road thus far – than they have in years. But the players also remember they have lost two of three home games already, a stunning start at a place that had been so hard on opponents in the past.
"Now we have to get our home record back up to par," defensive tackle Bryan Robinson said. "In the past it was a tough place to play, University of Phoenix Stadium. But it hasn't been that way this year. We'll try to get back to .500 at home and go from there."