Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Will Ellington's role increase?
By Tom Carpenter
Dating back to the 2009 campaign when Rashard Mendenhall was still with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the running back hasn't topped 4.1 yards per carry in a season. Currently, he is averaging a career-worst 3.2 yards on his 69 carries. Meanwhile, Arizona Cardinals teammate Andre Ellington sports a sparkling 6.7 yards-per-carry average. However, it's a small sample size with Ellington, because he only has 18 carries this season. Is it possible that he could carve out a bigger niche?
Well, coach Bruce Arians said during Monday's presser that he didn't think that the 5-foot-9 199-pound back was capable of taking on a workhorse role. He specifically noted that he envisioned a 28-30 snap count for the diminutive Ellington, who was on the field for a season-high 30 snaps in Week 5. Ellington also had his biggest workload of the season Sunday, with seven carries for 52 yards and four catches for 31 yards. Meanwhile, Mendenhall also was on the field for exactly 30 snaps but mustered only 43 yards on 17 carries (2.5 YPC) and 7 yards on 2 catches, though he did at least score a touchdown.
Sticking with that snap count for Ellington might make sense, but it's fair to wonder whether Arians will end up increasing the number of actual touches he gives the running back as the season progresses. The rookie offers big-play abilities that we haven't seen from Mendenhall in years, especially as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
The trouble in the short term is that the Cardinals are headed into a rough stretch of games against the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. In other words, even if Ellington gets more touches in the coming weeks, it may be a while until he is able to contribute reliable stats.