TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -Edgerrin James seems to have weathered the worst with the Arizona Cardinals. He's among the NFL leaders in rushing again, and he's closing in on a significant milestone.
He needs 12 yards in Sunday's game at Tampa Bay to reach 11,000 for his nine-year pro career. That's the most, by far, among active players and 16th-best in NFL history.
That's nice, he said after practice on Wednesday, but it won't be enough until the Cardinals (3-4) finally are winners.
``It's a whole lot better when you win,'' he said. ``The numbers are going to come. That's something I never really worry about. As long as I'm able to play, and I'm out there taking part in the game, I never worry about the numbers because the system will take care of me.''
The ``system'' of then-coach Dennis Green often had James slamming into a brick wall of defenders behind the line of scrimmage a year ago. This year, new coach Ken Whisenhunt vowed to make the running game work, and he has, even if it's not functioning up to James' standards.
``Last year at this time I was averaging about 2 yards a carry, so it's a whole lot better,'' he said. ``But for me, I want more. I want to do better and I want to win. Look at these games, we're losing by three points. It's so close. It's just a matter of breaking through. We've got to break through that barrier.''
James is fifth in the NFL, second in the NFC, with 603 yards, averaging 3.9 per carry. He's on target for a 1,300-yard season, something no Cardinal has done since Ottis Anderson in 1981. James, though, has topped 1,300 yards four times.
He said he's far from mastering Whisenhunt's system the way he did his highly successful time with the Indianapolis Colts.
``I was in a system where I did the same thing for seven years. We perfected that system,'' James said. ``I could go today and run that system with no problem.''
her since 1998. He needed 337 carries to get there.
``Last year I think I showed people I'm not going to give up,'' James said. ``I'm going to keep fighting, I'm going to keep pushing and give everything I had even though the situation wasn't beneficial.''
Then he laughed. The interview was the exception to what has been a quiet season for James, and that's the way he prefers it. Last year, as possibly the biggest free-agent signing in franchise history, James found himself as the focus of attention.
``I was never down with that,'' he said.
As the losses mounted, James retreated from the spotlight.
``For me, I just like to go out and play,'' he said. ``I'm not really into trying to be this and trying to be that. That's one thing I learned from Marvin Harrison - just go to work and stay low-key.''
James is very aware, though, of his place in NFL history. He needs 249 yards to pass O.J. Simpson into the top 15 in NFL rushing.
``I'm aware of everything. I look at myself as a business,'' he said. ``I want to have success and I want to see why I'm not doing well. I'm not satisfied where I'm at right now. A lot of people are 'You're crazy, you're in the top five in the league.' But I'm not satisfied because I don't feel like I've hit my groove yet.''
That's going to come, he said, if the injuries to players around him subside, and the team stays consistent.
``When I first came into the league, I said I wanted to be one of the guys that's remembered for playing this position. I wanted to leave my mark, so to speak,'' James said. ``... I know I'm passing guys. These are the years that I've been looking forward to. But at the same time, I want to be winning.
``Once this whole thing turns around, it's going to feel a whole lot better.''

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