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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Beanie Wells' physical running vs. Seattle

By Mike Sando

The Arizona Cardinals knew they were going to need a breakthrough season from Beanie Wells after trading Tim Hightower and placing Ryan Williams on injured reserve.

Wells, the Cardinals' first-round choice in 2009, has delivered through two games as the team's starting running back. Wells has 183 yards, two touchdowns and a 5.7-yard average. It's early to start making projections, but at his current pace, Wells would finish the season with 1,464 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.

Doug Clawson of ESPN Stats & Information charts NFC West games and noticed that Wells has become a stronger inside runner.

According to Clawson, Wells has averaged 6.9 yards per carry on 14 rushes up the middle. He'll be facing a Seattle Seahawks defense in Week 3 that has allowed only 2.5 yards per carry up the middle, fourth-best in the NFL. Overall, Wells is averaging 3.1 yards after contact on each carry, second to the Atlanta Falcons' Michael Turner among players with at least 15 carries.

That is another indication Wells is running with power. Against Washington in Week 2, he outran a defensive back to the edge and effectively warded off defenders with a stiff-arm.

Update: Tigre1629 noted in the comments that Wells had gained some yardage up the middle on draws, skewing the averages. I checked with Clawson on this one. Wells has two carries for 34 yards up the middle on draw plays. He has 12 carries for 63 yards up the middle on non-draws. So, if we wanted to filter out draws, we would note that Wells has averaged 5.3 yards up the middle on non-draws and 17.0 yards up the middle on draws, for a 6.9-yard average overall on these runs. Either way, Wells' production up the middle is vastly improved. His 2010 average would also include any draw plays.