Ellington and his (potential) touches

Posted by Darren Urban on October 31, 2013 – 3:04 pm

Andre Ellington misunderstood the question a bit, but his answer still summed up his feelings on the subject of how much work he could handle in a game.

“Until the clock says zero in the fourth quarter,” Ellington said.

After the rookie’s 154-yard rushing effort on just 15 carries against the Falcons, Ellington’s use has been one of the biggest topics surrounding this team. Does he get the ball enough? Should it be more? What exactly is the concern? What does it mean going forward?

When it comes to football (and I’m talking the football on the field now; Anyone gritting their teeth about Ellington’s use because of fantasy football reasons can leave now), both sides have an argument. I get those wondering why Ellington isn’t the lead back, especially over a veteran like Rashard Mendenhall whose production has dropped as the season has gone. Coach Bruce Arians mentioned Mendenhall’s return to the rotation was likely when Mendenhall was “100 percent” healthy. Here’s the thing: When would that be? Mendenhall has been missing some practice all the way back into training camp. He hasn’t been 100 percent healthy for a long time and now it seems that his bad toe was giving him much more trouble that was being let on. We could be seeing Ellington and Stepfan Taylor for a while.

This isn’t to say Mendenhall would be better than Ellington, but it’s a factor. And again, Mendenhall is just part of the equation. The coaching staff — and GM Steve Keim — have said repeatedly they don’t want Ellington beat up. This isn’t about the one blow that takes out a knee or a major injury. But if you think Ellington has the stuff (which he does) to take it 80 yards for a touchdown on any given play, you want to make sure he keeps that dynamic in his arsenal. If he gets 25 touches, maybe that ability isn’t quite there in the fourth quarter of a rough game.

Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said that on a personal level, he could see Ellington working more. He noted that strength and conditioning coordinator John Lott — who once worked for the Jets — said that Ellington and Hall of Fame workhorse back Curtis Martin were similar in stature. That’s true to a point (Ellington is 5-foot-11, 199, and Martin is listed as 5-11, 210), although when I look at pictures of Martin, he looks a bit more thick than Ellington to me.

Ellington had a season-high 17 touches against the Falcons (he added two catches.) “I wouldn’t mind the touches going up to 20 but I’d like to see it in the pass receiving,” coach Bruce Arians said. “He doesn’t has to stay between the tackles for him to get touches. I’d like to see him get them in space.”

That may end up being the compromise. Arians keeps saying he wants to get Ellington about 35 snaps and now, about 15-20 touches. Ellington does generally do a good job avoiding big hits and slipping massive contact. I’m sure the Cardinals aren’t going to forget to use what has been their best offensive weapon as the season goes on, even if Mendenhall returns.  The one certainty is this: No matter what Ellington does, he’s not going to be a back used almost all the time. Even the backs who are used all the time aren’t anymore (check Adrian Peterson’s touches of late).


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16 Responses to “Ellington and his (potential) touches”

  1. By Miles on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    I do agree with BA about only giving him so many reps this season, during the offseason i can see him getting a bit bigger and becoming the full time starter…. as of right now he just doesn’t have the size to power through people even though S. Taylor can.

  2. By JosEPh on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    Ellington and Taylor have the potential to be the Metcalf/Morris backfield of days gone by. That would be fun to see again.

  3. By Dino on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    If Mendenhall isn’t ready to play by the Texans game,then yeah BA should start Ellington,Williams & Taylor in that order.Or Taylor 2nd & Williams 3rd.But I’ve been waiting to see #34 show just how dangerous he is! So hopefully #34 will play Sunday.Just my opinion.

  4. By Chuck 1 on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    Is it just me or does Mendenhall’s injury problem remind you of Beanie’s frequent injury situations?

  5. By 2liberal on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    re: Anyone gritting their teeth about Ellington’s use because of fantasy football reasons can leave now

    I had Ellington fill in for Danny Woodhead, who was on bye week – he was great with 23 points, more than Jamaal Charles.

  6. By joe.holst on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    If it isn’t broke don’t fix it. The team was explosive with Ellington starting. So start him and bring in Mendenhall and Taylor for a few rushes, then bring Ellington back in later when the defense is worn down.

  7. By georgiebird on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    An NFL game takes about 3 hours to play. The time elapsed from the snap of the ball to the end of the play is about 15-16 minutes or about 8 minutes for each team. As long as the OL is proactive in protecting Ellington, I can see him playing the bulk of the game.
    It seems the Cardinals are finally realizing that it takes guys like Ellington and the Teddy Williams types to get the attention of the defense.
    My baseball Cardinals couldn’t get a clutch hit but had a great year.

  8. By loyalty on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    I know BA wants to be loyal to Mendenhall but he has drop that and realize Ellington/Taylor are the future of this team. Ellington needs at least 20 touches a game (passing and running 15+/5+) Taylor could be the tough mudder. Williams is an insurance policy in case one of them go down. Time to wise up, we need some explosion in the backfields which opens up the passing game a little more. Go get it Cardinals!

  9. By Rich on Nov 1, 2013 | Reply

    I’m beginning to think that Andre Roberts will be a cap space casualty this offseason. Can’t see how they resign him with all the other obligations they’ll have.

  10. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Nov 1, 2013 | Reply

    Mendenhall has been hurt. many in our section at game pounding him as a so so back. Wrong, he’s hurt. Don’t know if he gets well, but IF well, he’s a fine RB. We saw early his cuts, he’s got the moves.

    Durability? Not so much, so far. Hope he gets well and can show us his stuff. He has shown his guts already… so lets allow him to heal… and then judge his talent …

  11. By James on Nov 1, 2013 | Reply

    Ellington is too small and inexperienced to trust in pass protection. Until this changes, he won’t be the every-down RB you’re looking for.

  12. By infitzwetrust on Nov 1, 2013 | Reply

    I’m just glad we have a bright future at the rb position.

    Here’s to hoping Ellington can stay healthy.

    Credit to Taylor as well, The dude is tough.

  13. By ored on Nov 1, 2013 | Reply

    speaking of loyalty,BA has made a point of hiring old comrades,people he’s worked with previously and seen their work 1st hand and it follows down to players,and even down to williams,who i believe they share some virginia roots,he was iimpressed early with williams,not so much when he would’nt play.just maybe he is really giving williams his best chance to succeed,he has never been truly healthy since that knee injury and right now we have the position covered so he really is getting the chance to completly heal while watching what exactly is expected of him and how other backs are handling it,he is’nt being thrown into the fire,either here or traded to some desperate team misusing him,he’s still collecting a paycheck and should be fresh when called on.just seems to me coach is practicing patience and giving the player the benefit of doubt,if that is indeed the case,i applaud ba as much for his coaching as for his thoughtfulness and caring.he has backed all his players he has believed in,not only the ones he has been around previously,from carson to rookies,fitz to even levi until it was to the teams detriment.

    i also think andre roberts may not be here next year.

    i believe ellington will prove to be up to task and maybe his thunder will be taylor,if so and mendenhall moves on,we probably pick up another back next year and keep searching for the right TE.

  14. By Brandon Thorn on Nov 2, 2013 | Reply

    Nice article man. Great insight. I just did a piece on Ellington as well. I really like his potential to this team…only one game behind Detroit for the 6th spot in the playoffs and Ellington is the key to getting there.

  15. By Jason on Nov 4, 2013 | Reply

    Ellington is definitley a weapon the Cardinals should exploit as much as possible. the fact that he ran for 154 yards is phenominal. When’s the last time the Cardinals had someone gain 154 yards on the ground? I’m happy with our ground production as a hole, but I definitley think we should keep Ellington at about the level that he was at with the Falcons. 15 to 20 carries, and mix in Taylor and Mendenhall… for now…

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