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Arrington's hard running impresses Cardinals

11/25/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals' reliance on their four-receiver offense against the Giants in Week 12 explains why running back J.J. Arrington played about as much as starter Tim Hightower.

Not counting spike plays, Arrington was on the field for 34 snaps by my count. This counted 26 snaps with four wide receivers on the field, seven with three wide receivers on the field and one from the modified Wildcat grouping that produced a 1-yard loss while giving the Eagles -- and Cardinals -- something to work on in practice this week.

Hightower played 29 snaps by my count. My counts do not include the spike plays to stop the clock. Hightower gets the reps with two receivers on the field. He shares reps with three receivers on the field. Arrington gets more reps than Hightower with four receivers.

The Cardinals benched Edgerrin James in favor of Hightower because they thought Hightower gave them something James could not, namely extra speed and elusiveness. They also realize that Arrington gives them those things to a degree Hightower cannot match.

Hightower is bigger, so he's going to get more opportunities in traditional running situations. But Arrington has a chance to eat into those reps if he runs as tough as he ran against the Giants (at one point bulling over a defender). Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he loved to see that aspect of Arrington's play, in addition to what seems to be added confidence.

Whisenhunt remains committed to Hightower as the starter, but if Arrington earns more playing time, the reps have to come from somewhere.

Download: Full personnel report for the Cardinals vs. the Giants in Week 12.