Aug 5, 2013 6:07 PM by Associated Press
GLENDALE, AZ - The Arizona Cardinals again were without their top two running backs as training camp resumed Monday following a day off for all the players.
Rashard Mendenhall missed his third straight practice with patella tendinitis and Ryan Williams remained sidelined with a sore knee. Three other starters - guard Daryn Colledge (nerve irritation), inside linebacker Karlos Dansby (hamstring) and nose tackle Dan Williams (sprained ankle, knee) also missed another practice.
Coach Bruce Arians called the injury situation "pretty normal."
"By the time you get to the first preseason game, you've got 90 players, you should have at least 75 of them ready to play," he said, "and most of them won't hardly get in the game."
While Arians said the injury-plagued Williams, who has played just five games in his first two NFL seasons, is "progressing nicely," he said the running back is being "extremely" hurt by being unable to practice while his competitors have excelled.
Arians praised the play of rookie running backs Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington as well as fourth-year pro Alfonso Smith.
The Cardinals have three days of practice this week before leaving for their preseason opener Friday night at Green Bay in Arians' Arizona debut.
"This is a new team, a new season, new coaches and a new mindset, honestly," outside linebacker Sam Acho said. "So we're going out there to see what we can do against someone besides our own team."
Asked how much the starters would play against the Packers, Arians said, "We're shooting for 15 plays."
"We'll see how it goes, how far one side of the ball or the other gets stuck going into the second quarter," he said. "We'll just see how it plays out, how we're playing. There are so many young guys that need to be evaluated."
Those who sat out Monday's practice could miss Friday's opener as well.
"A bunch of those guys will be iffy for the ball game but they are getting better," Arians said. "We'll err on the side of caution."
Given the health of Mendenhall and Ryan Williams, there should be plenty of playing time for the three remaining backs on the roster. Taylor was a fifth-round draft pick out of Stanford, Ellington went in the sixth round out of Clemson.
"Stepfan is a power back that has really good vision," Arians said. "He likes to run between the tackles. Andre is a slasher who's made some great cuts in and outside - doesn't have quite the power Stepf has."
Smith, Arians said, is "a downhill runner."
"He's bringing it every time," the coach said. "As our safeties and linebackers have found out, he's a pretty good wall to try to run through on pass protection."
The Cardinals published their first depth chart of the camp on Monday, with no real surprises. Taylor was third team behind Mendenhall and Ryan Williams. Rookie Tyrann Mathieu backed up Rashad Johnson at free safety.
Arians said the depth chart doesn't mean much.
"They might be listed as third in one package and they're starters in the other packages," he said, "so I'm not really interested in answering a bunch of questions about where a guy is on the depth chart."
As an example, he mentioned inside linebacker Daryl Washington, one of the best players on the team but listed third string because he's suspended the first four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
"He's not playing in September," Arians said. "After that, he'll be listed higher."