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Williams Upbeat Despite Season-Ending Surgery

Running back's bad shoulder means Cards count on Stephens-Howling, Powell, Smith


Running back Ryan Williams (34) and Rams safety Darian Stewart prepare to collide on the play that caused Williams' shoulder injury, which forced surgery and ended his season.

Ryan Williams' first call Sunday after learning that he'll be having season-ending shoulder surgery was to his mother.

He had to calm her down. For Williams, it was the second time in two seasons doctors have told the running back that a rare injury would sideline him. Coach Ken Whisenhunt announced Monday the Cardinals would be losing their starting running back for the balance of the schedule.

Williams suffered a coracoid process fracture to his left shoulder when Rams safety Darian Stewart came from behind a pair of Cardinals blockers to hit Williams under the left shoulder pad. Williams said Monday he couldn't feel the left side of his body after the collision.

According to the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, it's a rare injury and is often mistaken for other shoulder ailments. Williams said team doctors told him they haven't treated one in 10 years.

"If you were to put your palm facing up to the ceiling and tried to raise up, the bone that basically makes me able to do that, that's fractured," Williams said while attending the Cardinals' annual Kingpin Challenge fundraiser. "On my left arm I can't lift it up like this (as he motioned upward). I can do everything else."

Williams, who suffered a ruptured patella tendon last year, found out Saturday that surgery was a possibility and learned his fate Sunday. After talking to his mother, Williams sat down with Whisenhunt, who lifted the second-year player's spirits.

At the bowling alley, it was Williams, whose left shoulder was supported by a sling, who was cheering up his teammates.

"I went through this for a whole year last year," he said. "I'm still actually going through the knee thing. That could be a good thing for my knee and my whole body, just so it could recover like it should be. So then next year I won't be waking up feeling like I'm 60 years old every day.

"I really believe in my heart truly that it is beneficial and it'll let my whole body do what it needs to do and then I'll be the Ryan Williams everybody has been expecting to see."

With starting running back Beanie Wells already on the injured reserve-able to return list with turf toe until Nov. 25, the Cardinals will have to reconfigure their backfield yet again. LaRod Stephens-Howling is expected back after missing the last two games with a hip injury. He started last season's finale in place of the inactive Wells and ran for 93 yards on 21 carries. William Powell, who had an impressive preseason, and Alfonso Smith will also share the rushing load.

Whisenhunt would not commit to adding another running back at this point.

"I feel good about the guys that we've got," he said. "We're always going to look to get better at every position and if that opportunity is there, then we'll certainly try to act on that."

Whisenhunt said Williams' surgery isn't expected to have long-term effects. The three-month timetable for recovery, however, ends Williams' chances to return this season.

"It's a tough thing for Ryan," Whisenhunt said. "We didn't think after the game it was going to be the case, but in getting tests done on it and talking to the doctor (Sunday), it's something that's going to require surgery."

Williams was injured with 11:25 left in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals' 17-3 loss to the Rams. After Stewart's hit, he lay motionless on the field for a few minutes, but was able to walk off under his own power. Williams' return was ruled questionable but he didn't play the rest of the game.

Whisenhunt sat down with Williams over the weekend and reassured the second-year back out of Virginia Tech that he'll be able to come back stronger for 2013.

"I feel horrible for Ryan," Whisenhunt said. "What I told Ryan when we sat down was that at least this time he won't have to deal with it through an offseason. He'll be able to go through an offseason program, he'll be able to go through practices. That'll get him in better shape to be ready to go for next year."

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