User ID
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Betting Tools

Small Stephens-Howling gets big role for Cardinals

New customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - The Arizona Cardinals have a drastic shortage of running backs, just when they are about to meet a Buffalo Bills defense that has been highly susceptible to the run.

Beanie Wells is long gone because of turf toe, with his earliest return on Nov. 25. Now Ryan Williams is out for the season with a left shoulder injury that required surgery.

Enter LaRod Stephens-Howling, the diminutive situational back who has been in this situation before. Replacing the injured Wells in last season's finale against Seattle, the 5-foot-7, 2009 seventh-round draft pick gained 93 yards on 17 carries in Arizona's 23-20 overtime victory.

That day certainly was in Stephens-Howling's thoughts as he worked out as Arizona's No. 1 running back this week.

``I always thought I could do it, and it was just better to see it happen last year,'' he said.

Behind Stephens-Howling are William Powell and Alfonso Smith, not exactly a feared pair, or even a known pair, around the NFL. The Cardinals decided to stand pat and not add someone from the outside.

Center Lyle Sendlein said the team is taking Stephens-Howling's ascension this week in stride.

``I don't think it's as big of a thing as people make it to be,'' Sendlein said. ``He's been in there so many times before. He knows our protections. He knows how to set up blocks. It's nothing like preparing someone who hasn't done it before.''

Even when the regular backs are healthy, Stephens-Howling has a multitude of chores, including kickoff return duties, third-down back and situational plays that emphasize his skills, especially in the open field. He took Kevin Kolb's screen pass and scampered 52 yards for the deciding touchdown in a 19-13 overtime victory over Dallas last season.

So when Stephens-Howling sat out the last two games against Miami and St. Louis with an injury, he was sorely missed.

``People might call him a scat-back,'' Sendlein said, ``but if you ask him he'll tell you he's an every-down back, and we believe he is. I guess you compare him to like a Warrick Dunn. Even though he is smaller, he doesn't take hits like a bigger running back. He knows to avoid them. He knows how to take hits. We're excited to have him as an every-down back this week, and we expect success.''

The Cardinals' running game wasn't that great even with Wells and Williams. They rank 31st (out of 32 teams) in rushing at 63.4 yards per game. The Bills, who have surrendered more than 1,200 yards in their last two games, are 30th in run defense, surrendering 171.8 yards per game.

A semblance of a running game might help keep Kolb upright. He has been sacked 17 times in two games, and hit many times more.

Expect coach Ken Whisenhunt's game plan to try to emphasize the positives that the team's remaining backs bring.

Stephens-Howling's backup is William Powell, who had an even tougher uphill climb to make the Arizona roster.

Not that big himself at 5-foot-9, he wasn't drafted out of Kansas State in 2011 and signed with Arizona as a free agent. He was released in September 2011 but was re-signed by the Cardinals late last December. Strong play in the preseason this year, albeit usually against third-and fourth stringers, earned him a spot on the 53-man roster when this season began. He had three carries for 9 yards the last two games.

``I always dreamed big,'' Powell said. ``Go for it. Even though I was home, I was praying for my chance, keep working out, staying ready. I can't say that I would imagine I would be in this situation right now. Hopefully I can make the best of it. I'm going to work hard to do the best I can with the opportunity.''


Online: and


Follow Bob Baum at

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2015
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

Mejia: NFL Week 13 Essentials
Nelson: Close Calls - Week 12
Dobish: Betting Recap - Week 12
Roberts: Broncos bail out Books
News: Win Total Betting Update
Browns' McCown out for rest of season
Pats' Gronkowski has bone bruise
NFL moves Morelli crew off night game
Terrelle Pryor to sign with Browns
Why Buy Picks From
NFL Pro Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NFL Hot Streaks
9-4 L2 Sun., 20-8 Run, 11-1 Mon.
6-1 Sunday, 11-2 L13, 29-11 L40
8-2 Sunday, 28-11 L39 Streak
5 Wins in a Row, 15-4 L19 Run
43-24 L67 Picks, +1,410 TY
9-3 L12 G-Plays, 11-6 L17 Picks
10-4 L14 Guaranteed Plays
4-1 Week 12, 13-7 L20 Picks
10-3 L13 Picks, 21-11 L6 Sundays
6-1 L7 Guaranteed Plays
18-8 L5 Sundays, 31-16 +1,406 L47
5-2 Last 7 NFL Guarantees
NFL Pro Football Expert Sports Picks - Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Andy Iskoe + 1555
Marc Lawrence + 1410
Zack Cimini + 1210
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Gary Bart + 695
Andy Iskoe + 590
Zack Cimini + 400
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Zack Cimini 64 %
Andy Iskoe 63 %
Marc Lawrence 62 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Vince Akins + 410
Kyle Hunter + 345
Joe Nelson + 328
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Jimmy Boyd + 463
Michael Black + 406
Matt Zylbert + 230
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Paul Bovi + 789
Antony Dinero + 691
Marc Lawrence + 550
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership