Cardinals could play Sunday without leading rusher

The Arizona Cardinals, the Ravens’ opponent on Sunday, listed four starters on their injury report as not having practiced Wednesday.

They are running back Beanie Wells (knee), wide receiver Early Doucet (quad), outside linebacker Joey Porter (knee) and strong safety Adrian Wilson (foot).

Of the four, Wells’ absence could be the most significant. Wells leads the Cardinals in rushing in both carries (91) and yards (423), and he has scored a team-high six touchdowns.

Wells told an Arizona radio station Wednesday morning that he planned to play against the Ravens, but coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t quite as sure.

“Today was our first day where we were back on the practice field,” Whisenhunt told Baltimore media during a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “He is hopefully going to rapidly progress as we go from this point. It’s such a relief from where we thought it was after the game to where he is now – that’s for sure. We thought we’d lost him for a long time, and it doesn’t look that way now, not at all.” 

If Wells is unavailable, Alfonso Smith, who gained 17 yards on five carries and scored his first career touchdown in Arizona’s 32-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, could get the start. Or the team could turn to former Raven Chester Taylor, who has rushed the ball nine times for 20 yards thus far.

“I think it will be a little bit [of] running back-by-committee,” Whisenhunt said. “I think there will be some different packages that we’ll use different guys. Chester is a lot more comfortable with our offense now than when he first got here the first week of the season. I think he’s fit in well with what we’ve asked him to do. I wouldn’t have any problem with him playing. He’s a good football player, smart football player. He certainly knows the type of competition that he’d be going up against.”

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