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What To Watch: Cardinals-Packers

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Ryan Williams is hurt again, this time the Cardinals' running back is dealing with a sore knee. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Ryan Williams is hurt again, this time the Cardinals' running back is dealing with a sore knee. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Well, some of the names have changed in Arizona thanks to a busy offseason, but things seem all too familiar early in the preseason for a team that’s desperate to erase the memories of a 4-12 campaign. As the cliché goes, the Cardinals haven’t had much opportunity to use any of the pent-up motivation they’ve accumulated to “hit the ground running” so far this preseason, and their running back situation looks to be touch-and-go as the schedule kicks off Aug. 9 in Green Bay.

And stop us if you've heard this before, the team could be without its top two running backs.

Rashard Mendenhall missed a third straight practice earlier this week with patella tendinitis, and will “hopefully” play against the Packers, according to coach Bruce Arians. Ryan Williams, the third-year back who has not been able to stay healthy throughout his career, has been sidelined with … wait for it … a sore knee. Arians has also referred to the injury situation as "pretty normal," but that won’t really calm anyone’s nerves among those familiar with normalcy in Arizona. 

Williams has played in all of five games in his first two NFL seasons. Mendenhall started only four games last season in Pittsburgh due to recovery from an ACL tear that occurred in 2011. The unsure state of both players could create a lot more opportunity for rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington, as well as fourth-year veteran Alfonso Smith in 2013. They’ll certainly get extensive preseason looks as both Mendenhall and Williams are expected to be used only sparingly until the games count. 

This would also seem to open the door for a more extensive look at the connection stud wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and veteran free agent quarterback Carson Palmer develop in their first competitive action together.