The Arizona Cardinals were pleased with the performance of running back Andre Ellington last year towards the end of the season, and there are many analysts that believe he will have a breakout season in 2014.
Ellington is an electric running back who has the ability to break a big play at any given moment, and that will help the Carson Palmer led Cardinals’ offense this year. He will not just be used in the running game either, as he can be a lethal receiver out of the backfield at times as well.
Ellington played in 15 regular season games last year with the Cardinals, picking up 652 yards and three touchdowns on 118 carries. He was unable to get consistent playing time due to Rashard Mendenhall being on the roster, but Mendenhall walking and retiring this offseason, the running back position is Ellington’s to dominate.
There are still some question marks surrounding whether or not he has the ability to be a workhorse type of back, but it is hard to argue with the type of production that he has shown in the limited playing time that he has received.
One of the main reasons that Ellington didn’t play as much as he should have last season, was that the coaching staff didn’t completely trust him to be their number one back. That has changed this offseason, and head coach Bruce Arians has made it clear that he will be putting the football in Ellington’s hands this coming season. Arians also added that Ellington has gained 10 pounds of muscle this offseason, which will be a big addition as far as durability is concerned.
There simply won’t be much competition in the backfield for Ellington for carries, and that is another reason that his value is up at this point in time. With Mendenhall deciding to walk away from the game and retire, that leaves just Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer to compete for carries with him. While both of those players are talented, they are not going to even contest Ellington’s grip on the starting position.
All that being said, the most underrated aspect of Ellington’s game is his ability to make plays as a receiver out of the backfield. Carson Palmer is very excited about the chance that he has to work with his running back as a receiver, and it could end up making the Cardinals’ offense twice as dangerous as it was last year. Ellington caught 39 passes for 371 yards and a touchdown last season, and his targets are sure to go up. The Cardinals understand that they simply need to get him the football in open field, and let him make plays.
Overall, the future hasn’t looked brighter for the Cardinals’ running attack in quite some time. Ellington has the “star” potential that everyone saw in him coming out of Clemson, and he is ready to prove himself in the NFL this coming season. Don’t be surprised to see Ellington become one of the most electrifying and up-and-coming running backs in the league this coming season.