The Arizona Cardinals defeated the floundering Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at home and found a new spark on offense, rookie running back Andre Ellington. The sixth-round pick out of Clemson looked electric in the pre-season and responded with a big day yesterday with veteran RB Rashard Mendenhall out of the lineup while nursing a toe injury. In Monday’s press conference, first-year head coach Bruce Arians was not ready to hand the starting job off the Ellington just yet.
I consider Arians to be one of the brightest offensive minds in the league. Simply look at what has happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers since he “retired”. Look at what he was able to do with a rookie quarterback in limited games last year in Indianapolis. His resume speaks for itself.
Arians told reporters this afternoon at his presser that Mendenhall will assume his same role in the Cardinals offense once he returns from his toe injury, despite Ellington’s performance on Sunday. “I’ll evaluate it when he comes back, but I’m sure he will resume his role, as long as he’s full speed.”
Arians is a veteran coach and his comments this afternoon might have been nothing more than lighting a fire under Ellington moving forward. I’m not an NFL coach and I have to tell you in the Cardinals games I’ve watched this season, Mendenhall is old and slow. He shuffles to try to hit holes. He’s averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.
Now Arians might be correct that Ellington needs to improve his pass protection but he has to be a much larger part of the Cardinals offense moving forward.