Sunday, September 4, 2011
Cardinals' backfield no longer so green
By Mike Sando
Arizona has long sought to attract senior citizens from cold-weather states.
The state's NFL team has assembled quite a few NFL elders, including their newest running back, Chester Taylor. That wasn't the plan heading into training camp, but losing rookie running back Ryan Williams to knee surgery forced a change of plans upon the Cardinals.
Taylor, who turns 32 this month, averaged 2.4 yards per attempt with three touchdowns and 20 receptions in 2010, his lone season with the Chicago Bears. He spent four seasons previously with Minnesota and four with Baltimore. In 2006, his lone season as a full-time NFL starter, Taylor carried 303 times for 1,216 yards, easily career highs. He has missed only five games in nine seasons.
The Cardinals were already the NFL's second-oldest team on average when teams reduced to 53 players in accordance with the Saturday deadline. Most of their older players are concentrated on defense. Taylor joins tight end Todd Heap, 31, as the Cardinals' only offensive players in their 30s, pending other moves the team could be planning or in the process of making.
Taylor's career rushing average per attempt has fallen from 5.4 (2007) to 4.0 (2008) to 3.6 (2009) to 2.4 (2010) over the past four seasons. The Cardinals weren't going to find a young, ascending running back on the market at this time. They have added a back whose experience gives them something they didn't have at the position previously.