Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 10/24/12
TEMPE, Ariz. Its easy to wrap your arms around LaRod Stephens-Howling. Hes only 5-feet-7, he was a late, seventh-round pick out of Pittsburgh in 2009 (240th overall), and he has perhaps the most appropriate and affection-inspiring nickname in the NFL: The Hyphen. I know the fans really appreciate what I do, Stephens-Howling said. I was the underdog, and I guess people wrap themselves around the underdog. I came in here and just did everything I was asked to do. On Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, that meant being the feature back with the clubs top two backs on the depth chart, Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, still out with injuries. Stephens-Howling responded in a big way, rushing for a career-high 104 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in a 21-14 loss. He also caught four passes for 45 yards. He was a warrior, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. He was tough. He ran the ball well. At this point, if it requires him to carry the ball that many times a game, then thats what we have to go with. But there is a big qualifier embedded in Whisenhunts statement one Stephens-Howling has heard for the past four seasons. Going forward, weve got to rotate those guys, Whisenhunt said, mentioning William Powell and even Alfonso Smith as the Cardinals prepare for Monday night's home game against San Francisco. I dont think were going into a game thinking LaRod is going to get all the carries. There is a practical reality behind Whisenhunts statement. Stephens-Howling has special-teams duties, including kick returns, that the Cardinals would like him to resume once Wells returns to the lineup -- possibly late next month. But theres also Stephens-Howlings size to factor in when subjecting him to a weekly pounding. Think of him as Toyota Prius on the road with a bunch of SUVs. No matter how tough that Prius is, and no matter how good its safety features are, its still going to lose in repeated battles with the bigger SUVs. As every highway safety test will tell you, weight matters. Im so tired of that assumption, Stephens-Howling said. I have to hear it every time. I just want to be a running back. I dont know what else to say about that. Stephens-Howling has done his best to alter that perception. He put on weight in the offseason and has nearly bulked back up to that training camp weight of 185 pounds despite the rigors of the season. When he weighed in last Friday, he said he weighed 184 and he insists he wasnt wearing heavy chains. My girlfriends cooking at home, he said. Its good weight. Desserts every once in a while, but you always need those to keep you going. That dogged effort and, yes, his size, make Stephens-Howling a favorite in the locker room. Whenever hes needed, he always answers the call and executes the way he needs to when youre the starting running back, fullback Anthony Sherman said. Hes smaller than everyone else, but hes got one of the biggest hearts on the field. Stephens-Howling said he felt great after the Vikings game. I feel a little beat up, but thats how you want to feel after a game because you feel like youve been in the game, he said. I felt like that when we played Seattle the last game of (last) season and I had a bunch of carries. Small evidence notwithstanding, Stephens-Howling will probably never escape the educated belief that he cant be an every-down back. But its hard to begrudge the pint-sized, seventh-round pick for continuing to fight that perception. Maybe one day Ill be able to escape it, he said. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Durant, Westbrook on loss to Warriors: We're not scared

Report: Eagles interested in bringing back Nick Foles

Report: Manning hinted to teammates he plans to retire

Barry Sanders shares thoughts on Megatron retirement talk

Report: Marshawn Lynch told friends he is retiring

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win


Tony Dungy coaches his way into Canton

Top eight takeaways from NFL Honors awards

Report: Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message

Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

Marcin Gortat fires back at critic on Twitter

WATCH: Kerr told Warriors he was happy to have close game

Broncos could have tough decision with franchise tag

WATCH: Steph Curry does 'Dab' on court on eve of Super Bowl

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker