When the Cardinals lost running back Ryan Williams to a season-ending shoulder injury last October, the general reaction in Arizona was an unhappy one since it meant Williams would wind up missing all but five games in his first two seasons.
Williams had a different reaction, though. The 2011 second-round pick was feeling less than comfortable with the state of his right knee after a torn patellar tendon wiped out his rookie season. Williams described being struck with fear in the second game of the season when the Cardinals called a toss play that would leave his knee exposed to a hit that Williams wasn’t sure it could take. It’s unusual to hear a pro be that honest about playing scared and even rarer to hear one say he felt relief about a season-ending injury.
“It’s sad to say, but honestly I was happy because the first thing I thought about was getting my knee right,” Williams said, via Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic.
Williams says he feels the healthiest he has since the initial knee injury, but knows that he’s “considered damaged goods” after the last two years. The Cardinals added Rashad Mendenhall in free agency before drafting Andre Ellington and Stepfon Taylor, so it is safe to say that the team’s new regime isn’t proceeding with the expectation that Williams will be the same back that the previous brain trust envisioned coming out of college.
They aren’t blocking him from reaching that level, though. None of the newcomers present an insurmountable obstacle if the absence of fear and a return to health allow Williams to start fulfilling his potential.