NFC West: Johnny Roland

Tim Hightower was driving from Phoenix to Arizona Cardinals training camp in Flagstaff when the call came from coach Ken Whisenhunt.

The Cardinals, having used a 2011 second-round draft choice for running back Ryan Williams, were trading Hightower to the Washington Redskins. Hightower will naturally have extra incentive to play well when his former team visits FedEx Field in Week 2, but not out of vengeance.


"In this business, I’ve seen a lot of things take place, and there weren’t any bitter feelings," Hightower told reporters Wednesday. "It wasn’t anything negative. I have nothing but a great deal of respect for Arizona. I have a lot of good memories with Arizona."

Hightower grew up in Alexandria, Va., and went to Episcopal High School there. He also played at the University of Richmond.

"A lot of thoughts and emotions -- excitement, some sadness, just a lot of emotions all at once," Hightower said of his mindset following the trade.

The 10 rushing touchdowns Hightower scored during the Cardinals' 2008 Super Bowl season were the most since Donny Anderson finished the 1973 season with 10. Johnny Roland had 10 for the Cardinals' 1967 team. Lane MacArthur, Ernie Nevers and John David Crow are the only players in franchise history with more than 10 in one season. Seasons were shorter when they played.

Arizona might have held onto Hightower had the team known Williams would suffer a season-ending knee injury during preseason. The timing worked out well for Hightower, however, because he got the trade news before showing up for camp. That was important to him because it spared Hightower from committing fully for another season, then abruptly withdrawing.

Beanie Wells carried 18 times for 90 yards and a touchdown for the Cardinals during their opening-week victory over Carolina. That was the second-highest total for Wells' career. He rushed for 110 yards against Detroit as a rookie in 2009.

"There was a lot of hype around him coming in to replace me, us splitting roles, being at each other's throats and kind of divided," Hightower said. "But it actually ended up being a close relationship, one of the closest relationships that I’ve had to this day. I learned a lot from Beanie, and I feel like he learned a lot from me. We challenged each other, we pushed each other, and I think he made me a better player."

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