James called in to fix Arizona’s rushing game

By The Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz.- The running woes that have long plagued the Arizona Cardinals could be history. Now, Arizona has the ‘Edge.’

After only a cameo appearance in the preseason, Edgerrin James will be on full display in the Cardinals’ opener Sunday against San Francisco. It’s time to earn that four-year, $30 million contract.

“I’d say Edge should get probably 25 runs and probably five touches with the pass,” coach Dennis Green said after the Cardinals practiced Wednesday.

Cardinals fans packed the team’s new stadium for two home preseason games, but only got a glimpse of their new star running back. James carried seven times for 1 yard in four preseason games, caught two passes for 11 yards, and would have preferred not to have played at all.

But it’s for real now, and James is out to show fans that he is just as good a player in Arizona as he was in Indianapolis, where he gained at least 100 yards in 49 games and won two NFL rushing titles.

James doesn’t like preseason games because of the possibility of injury, but he makes up for it in practice.

“He’s ready to go,” Green said. “It’s up to us to make sure that we fulfill our obligation to be a much-improved team, and then I think Edge will take care of his part.”

James has topped 1,000 yards in a season five times, including the last three. The Cardinals, meanwhile, had the worst running game in the NFL last season. Not once did a back top 100 yards. Arizona hasn’t had a 1,000-yard back since Adrian Murrell in 1998, the Cardinals’ only winning season since the franchise arrived in 1988.

The major question for James’ success is whether the offensive line can create any room for him to run. James said the line simply has to avoid mental errors.

“That’s the main thing,” he said. “As long as they go to the right people, I’m not worried about anything because athletically they’re a good group.”

The makeup of the line still is not settled. Reggie Wells, normally the starting left guard alongside mammoth tackle Leonard Davis, has worked some at right tackle in the absence of Oliver Ross, out for at least the opener with a knee injury.

“We’ll be fine. Edge has said it himself, he doesn’t start off games and break 60- or 70-yard runs,” Wells said. “I don’t think many backs do in this league. It’s all about sticking with it, perseverance. Once we get into the 15-to-20 carry mark, that’s when we start gashing them. We’re not worried about preseason stats, and we know he isn’t, either.”