Rookie on the hot seat: Beanie Wells

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Wells If there's such a thing as a rookie hot seat -- and I could argue either side -- Cardinals running back Chris Wells would seem to qualify. Arizona is counting on him to replace Edgerrin James and help the Cardinals develop a more consistent ground game.

Every high-profile rookie faces some level of pressure and expectation. Wells faces more than usual for the 31st player chosen in a draft class. He'll play and possibly start from the beginning. His numbers will be compared to what James and Tim Hightower managed last season.

NFL rules governing rookies and when they can report to camp will cost Wells nearly one month of on-site preparation time. The setback should be only a temporary one. He's a running back, after all, not a quarterback. The bigger challenge for Wells could be proving he can avoid the injuries that slowed him during an otherwise impressive career at Ohio State.

Wells isn't the only NFC West rookie facing high expectations in 2009, but the nature of his position will make his contributions easy to evaluate. Teams use multiple receivers most of the time. They generally use only one halfback at a time. That puts halfbacks in the spotlight every time they're on the field.

Honorable mention: James Laurinaitis, LB, Rams. The Rams released Pisa Tinoisamoa, leaving them thin at the position. Laurinaitis will presumably have to play right away.