Around the NFL  


Bruce Arians: Cardinals' backs are runners, protectors


Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians wants to push the ball downfield. We know this.

Unofficial list of free agents
NFL free agency is set to begin on March 12. Check out this unofficial list of the 2013 NFL restricted and unrestricted free agents for every team, which includes Greg Jennings. More ...

But will the running backs play a role in the passing game? Yes, but they won't be catching the ball.

"They are back there because they are runners and pass-protectors," Arians told the Cardinals' official website. "Will we throw to the backs? Yeah. But the receivers are the ones paid to catch it. (Running backs) are helping, but it's doubtful our running back leads the team in receiving."

The 2012 Indianapolis Colts gave a glimpse of what to expect. The Colts' backs had 34 receptions as a group, including 17 from starter Vick Ballard. That's just 10 percent of the team's 339 receptions. By comparison, the Cardinals' backs caught 52 of 337 completions for a 15.4 percentage in 2012. And that was with a group decimated by injuries.

Bottom line: Don't expect Arians to add a Darren Sproles-like facet to the offense. That's more good news for Larry Fitzgerald and his fellow receivers -- if there's improvement from the quarterback position.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.


Fan Discussion