Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 10/8/12
TEMPE, Ariz. When the season began, the Cardinals envisioned a deadly 1-2 punch at the running back position, with power back Beanie Wells and big-play back Ryan Williams. Now they wont have either. Coach Ken Whisenhunt announced Monday after practice that Williams will need shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the season after absorbing a hit from Rams safety Darian Stewart in the fourth quarter of Thursdays game in St. Louis that knocked him out of the game. Its a tough thing for Ryan, said Whisenhunt, who put the timetable for recovery at about three months. At least this time he wont have to deal with it through an offseason. Hell be able to go through the offseason program and hell be able to go through practices, and that will get him in better shape and be ready to go next year. The only specifics Whisenhunt would provide about the injury were that theres a little bone process at the top where it connects. I dont want to go into details, but it requires surgery to fix it. Williams was the clubs second-round pick in 2011 (38th overall) but missed all of his rookie season after tearing the patellar tendon in his knee in the preseason. He worked hard to rehab that injury so he could be ready for the 2012 campaign, noting often how emotional and difficult that process was. He had a late fumble that nearly cost the Cardinals a victory against the New England Patriots in Week 2 but bounced back in a Week 3 victory over the Eagles, amassing 62 yards of his 83 yards on seven fourth-quarter carries to help the team run out the clock. He had 58 carries for 164 yards this season. Wells must miss at least five more games on injured reserve with severe turf toe. The Cards exercised their lone IR exception on Wells so that he could return this season, but he cant play before a Nov. 25 game against the Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium. Without that pair, LaRod Stephens-Howling becomes the de facto starting back, but the Cardinals will use a committee of William Powell and Alfonso Smith as well because Stephens-Howling is too small to absorb the pounding of an every-down back, and he also plays a crucial role on specials teams as the clubs kickoff returner. Stephens-Howling has been unavailable the past two weeks due to a hip injury. Stephens-Howling, Powell and Smith have a combined 15 carries for 10 yards. Whisenhunt said Monday the team will explore other options to fill out the position but declined to name players he might consider. Former Cards running back Tim Hightower is a free agent but is coming off knee surgery. The Saints are deep at running back with Chris Ivory, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles, giving them enviable depth that might be available via trade. Were always going to look to get better at every position, Whisenhunt said. If that opportunity is there, then well certainly try to act on it. Williams was not available after Mondays practice. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
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