One of the Arizona Cardinals' priorities is improving the running game, but that's going to be difficult, given the team's offensive line situation and injuries to its top two backs.
The team found out over the weekend that Ryan Williams is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Williams underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a fractured coracoid process, a structure where numerous tendons and ligaments attach. Williams, who is expected to make a full recovery in three months or so, was placed on injured reserve.
Beanie Wells is out for at least five more games with a torn ligament in his toe.
LaRod Stephens-Howling likely will start against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, provided he's over the hip flexor injury that caused him to miss the last two games. His backups are William Powell, who played in his first NFL game three weeks ago, and Alfonso Smith, who was signed after Wells was injured.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he feels "good about the guys we've got," but he didn't rule out signing another running back.
"If there's an opportunity there, we'll try to act on it," Whisenhunt said.
Whisenhunt said the injury to Williams was another challenge.
"That's the NFL. Teams have to fight through adversity," the coach said. "We've done a good job of that the first five weeks of the season."
The Cardinals' chances of overcoming the injuries would be far greater if they had a strong offensive line. They don't. Tackles D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie have struggled, and the three inside players have not performed as well as expected.
Right guard Adam Snyder is playing with an injured left elbow. The Cardinals aren't disclosing the nature of the injury, but Snyder has been on the injury report every week this season.
It's believed he suffered the injury in practice a few days before the season opener.
"We had some technique problems that we have to get corrected," Whisenhunt said. "This is the same group that performed pretty well the first three weeks as far as not giving up plays. We've got to do a better job running the football. That will help. That's one of the things that we've got to focus on. We're not going to panic."