One of the things Bruce Arians said last season — more and more as the year went along — was that while he still believed in the philosophy of the offense that allowed Andre Ellington to be the linchpin both running and receiving, it became a big problem when Ellington was dinged up and then sidelined with injuries. It was especially true in the passing game, where Ellington excels when he is on the field.
As the offseason goes on and people keep wondering what will be the role of rookie third-round running back David Johnson might be, it’s telling that Arians mentioned first the other day praise for Johnson as a receiver. The thought was that the Cards would take a big running back to pair with Ellington, but instead, it points more toward the ability for the Cardinals’ offensive gameplan to absorb an Ellington injury if necessary.
Arians said as much right after the draft, saying with Johnson “you don’t have to change if there was an injury,” but that message is easy to forget over the weeks. Arians has said Johnson needs to put on pads before anything can be determined of him as a runner. How this running rotation plays out will be interesting — Arians has talked a lot about Robert Hughes about needing more work, although Hughes never quite was able to fill that void left when Jonathan Dwyer was let go last season. Maybe the offensive line upgrade will make a difference all the way around. But even though Johnson physically has size on Ellington, they’ll likely do a lot of the same things on the field.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, David Johnson, Robert Hughes
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