Arizona running backs Wells, Williams on the mend

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By Natalie Rivers By Natalie Rivers

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals could have a strong 1-2 punch out of the backfield with Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams this season.

First, the two running backs have to get healthy. Wells had surgery on his right knee after he was bothered by soreness most of last season. Williams had his whole rookie season wiped out when he ruptured a patella tendon in training camp.

Both are doing rehab work while their teammates practice in organized team workouts, although Williams says he hopes to begin practice next week. How long Wells will be out is uncertain.

Players report to the camp in Flagstaff on July 24, with the first practice the following day.

Wells has been vague about the exact nature of the surgery. Asked if it was to repair a torn meniscus, he said it was "more complicated than that."

Whatever, it seems certain that Williams will be practicing before Wells is.

"Ryan's pretty close to being at the end of it," coach Ken Whisenhunt said after the Cardinals wrapped up their latest three-day set of OTAs on Thursday. "But obviously training camp is what the most important thing is. We're going to continue to work him in, see how he progresses, test him out. Beanie a little bit of the same thing. He made some progress this week, which is good to see."

Wells said that he's been picking up a bit more work every day.

"Today I did a little bit of running, a little bend and pulls and stuff to strengthen the quad," he said.

The knee itself, he said, "is a process that's getting better each day."

"You've just got to get the confidence back in it," Wells said, "and the strength. Confidence comes from having strength in it."

He said the goal is to participate in training camp, although it might not be "full-tilt" right off the bat.

Despite the sore knee, Wells rushed for a career-high 1,045 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Wells stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 229, Williams is a rock-solid 5-9, 207.

"He's a lot more shifty than myself, a little quicker," Wells said. "I think he's going to do a heck of a job for us."

Williams feels the same.

"He's the big power back but a lot of people don't know how fast Beanie really is. He's a pretty fast guy to be as big as he is. So power with speed," Williams said. "I'm not the fastest guy on the field but arguably one of the quickest and shiftiest. So those two dimensions on the field, it's pretty cool to have to complement each other."

Williams, a second-round draft pick from Virginia Tech, impressed everyone who saw him in the early stages of camp last year before his leg was rolled on by another player.

"It was a freakish tackle where he landed on me wrong and I landed wrong also, and my patella snapped," Williams said. "It was pretty bad, man. I was having an outstanding camp and to come through a couple of weeks and have an injury like this. Everything happens for a reason. I don't know the reason yet but we'll find out in a couple of months."

He wasn't able to start running until February but said that he's doing everything now except participate in the 7-on-7 drills.

Williams said his experience at camp last year, brief as it was, let him know he belongs in the NFL.

"For me to come in with no OTAs, no minicamp, no NFL type of life or anything, I just came in here blind," Williams said, "and I felt like I came in here as a professional. I knew what I had to do and I did it. I feel good about that and coming back this year, nothing's going to change."