By Chris Burke
October 08, 2012

[caption id="attachment_6607" align="alignright" width="300"]Ryan WilliamsRyan Williams will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. (Paul Connors/AP)


Prior to Arizona's game in St. Louis last Thursday, I wrote on here about how vital Ryan Williams was to the Cardinals if they were to maintain their hot start. With Monday's news that Williams has been lost for the season to a shoulder injury, the Cardinals suddenly have major issues in the backfield.

That was true even before Thursday's outing -- the Cardinals recently put Beanie Wells on the Injured Reserve list, though he could return in November under a new NFL rule. But the Cardinals have had issues establishing the run, completely healthy or not. They currently rank 31st in the league in rushing yards, with Williams and Wells averaging 2.8 and 2.6 yards per carry, respectively.

Barring a move (and Arizona figures to start scouring the free-agent and trade markets immediately), the depth chart at RB heading into Week 6 would consist of William Powell, Alfonso Smith and LaRod Stephens-Howling.

Powell may have the highest upside of that trio, but to this point in the year, the three have combined for all of 10 yards rushing.

The news is devastating, too, for Williams. The 2011 second-round draft pick missed all of last regular season with a knee injury and sat out a huge chunk of his redshirt sophomore year at Virginia Tech (2010) because of a hamstring issue. He has just five NFL games under his belt and now won't see the field again until his third season. A once-promising future now appears very much in doubt, to say the least.

Arizona still sits atop the NFC West with a 4-1 record, despite Thursday's setback in St. Louis. The Williams' injury news just adds to the team's problems on offense, however.

The Cardinals have been absolutely putrid along the offensive line, especially at both tackle spots. They have allowed 23 sacks in five games, including nine to the Rams as Kevin Kolb was beaten to a pulp by a relentless pass rush.

With Arizona currently bereft of any threats out of the backfield, Kolb (or John Skelton, once he returns from injury) might have to pick himself up off the turf over and over again as defenses pin their ears back against the pass -- the run game, as it stands, certainly will not keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night.

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