Arizona Cardinals rookie running back Andre Ellington has been a revelation so far this season, and it’s quite clear that he is the most talented running back on the Cardinals roster. Veteran back Rashard Mendenhall is still the starter in name, and he will be starting this week against the Houston Texans. However, Ellington is expected to receive the brunt of the workload going forward, because the only advantage that Mendenhall has on Ellington is size, which is only truly applicable in short-yardage situations.
According to Cardinals official site beat writer Darren Urban, head coach Bruce Arians stated that he wants to get Ellington in space more, which would best take advantage of Ellington’s agility and explosiveness. Beyond that, the Cardinals are also concerned with Ellington’s ability to withstand hits and avoid injuries due to his 5’9″ height. He’s stronger than the Cardinals are giving him credit for, though, but it’s still a reason why the Cardinals have been reluctant to give Ellington more carries (ugh, right?) and are also leery about giving him too many carries between the tackles.
Arians, per Urban, stated that he would like to give Andre Ellington 20 touches per game, and that’s a lofty number indeed. As Urban notes in a chart, only the league’s best backs receive that many touches per game, but Arians made it clear that he really wants to get Ellington involved more often as a receiver out of the backfield. Why? To get him in space, of course. Ellington’s hands and shiftiness have already made him one of the league’s top receiving backs, and that’s a huge advantage he has on all the other running backs on the Arizona Cardinals roster.
Overall, it’s great to hear that Arians sounds committed to giving Ellington the ball more, because he’s a very talented player and had a monster game against the Atlanta Falcons with almost all of his 154 carries coming after he was first hit.