Ryan Williams' hope vs. cold realities

Candor and perhaps even foreboding marked recent comments from Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians regarding injured running back Ryan Williams.

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"It's hurting (Ryan) extremely not to be on the field competing for the job because those other guys are doing so well," Arians told reporters covering the Cardinals.

The new leadership in Arizona is certainly rooting for Williams, a once-promising second-round pick still trying to shake a catastrophic knee injury suffered in 2011. Steve Keim, in his first year as the Cardinals' general manager after more than a decade with the organization in other roles, was among those most excited about Williams' potential before the injury. I can recall Keim's excitement at camp in 2011 upon seeing Williams unleash speed cuts upon a defense that had trouble running with him.

But as Arizona demonstrated in releasing longtime safety Adrian Wilson, who had played at Keim's alma mater (NC State) and was close to him, the Cardinals aren't going to let sentiment override reason when making personnel moves.

Arizona released Wilson and fellow starting safety Kerry Rhodes because those players' contracts were out of alignment in the team's view. The same fate awaited guard Adam Snyder, signed to a $17 million contract one year earlier.

The Cardinals' more recent decision to release outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield also comes to mind. Schofield was just 26 years old, but he had been prone to injuries and was scheduled to earn $1.3 million in salary for 2013, the final year of his contract. Arizona seemingly could have used him, but not at the wrong price, not with the injury factor looming and not with Schofield likely to depart following the season anyway.

The market affirmed all these decisions. Wilson, Snyder and Schofield took less money to play elsewhere. Rhodes remains unsigned and likely will not command anywhere close to the $6 million in salary he was scheduled to receive from the Cardinals.

Williams is in a different category. The team still hopes his knee troubles subside sufficiently for the third-year pro to factor in a backfield featuring Rashard Mendenhall, Alfonso Smith and rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington. Salary isn't a significant concern. Health is the issue. Unfortunately for Williams, time might not be on his side.