Ellington takes his shot at punt returns

Posted by Darren Urban on August 23, 2016 – 10:13 am

Andre Ellington is now listed as the top kickoff and punt returner on the depth chart. The kickoff part isn’t that surprising. The punt return part is, since a) Ellington has never really done it and b) it wasn’t really a consideration when camp started. But Ellington, who finally got a chance to return one in a game in San Diego, is going to have the opportunity.

We’ll see how comfortable Ellington can get back there. This possibility has been building since the day Chris Johnson re-signed. When the three top running backs were healthy last season, David Johnson was returning kickoffs and there was a reason to have all three active on game days. Now that David Johnson is going to be the main back, he won’t be returning kickoffs — so to have all three active, someone has to play special teams. That’s not Chris Johnson. So you try and see what Ellington can do as the dual return man. (You don’t really want Patrick Peterson returning punts anymore either.)

Watching him in practice, Ellington looks very much like a work in progress. But Bruce Arians is right — if Ellington does get his hands on a punt, he’s the kind of player that fits such a return perfectly, getting the ball in space on what essentially is an extended stretch running play, in which Ellington can use his burst to blow up the field.


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21 Responses to “Ellington takes his shot at punt returns”

  1. By BIGAL on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    So Darren, on game day how many of the 53 roster players are available gameday? I know they always have a list during the season of 5-8 players that are injured but w/expectation to return…5-8 or soo depending???

  2. By Darren Urban on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    BigAl —

    RE: Game day

    Seven are inactive on game day, 46 available.

  3. By on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    Thank You!

  4. By on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    Wow, I get it now on special teams…I was also a punt & kick returner but I never paid attention to the #’s aspect…ie…have to say it…it was always a love/hate relationship to see PP back there…if he returns one… yeah, the crowd goes wild nuts! If he gets hurt for an extended amount of time??? I’m sorry but yer all fired for risking our best player on Special Teams!!! Yer ALL FIRED!!!

  5. By TLT fka DTL on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    So Urb:

    Does Bethel now look full speed?
    How does Mike Jenkins look?

  6. By Darren Urban on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    TLT —

    RE: CBs

    Bethel does not look full speed yet.

    Jenkins looks decent right now.

  7. By mitchaz on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    Ellington looked pretty good last week on returns. He’s running harder and tougher this pre-season. The questions are, can he hold up physically and can he show the hunger, toughness and ball security in the return game that others (not named David Johnson) the past few years have lacked?

    Both Ginn’s and Peterson’s fumbles in the return game at Carolina in the playoffs the past two seasons were significant momentum swingers.

  8. By mitchaz on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply


    Do you have a theory as to why Ted Ginn Jr. was so unproductive and unenthusiastic with the Cardinals and why he’s so the opposite in Carollina?

    He’d be in the last year of his FA deal with the Cardinals right now, had he not played so lethargically.

  9. By Darren Urban on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    Mitchaz —

    RE: Ginn

    With Ginn you have to be willing to allow for a certain amount of drops/mistakes as a receiver. Cards took Smokey Brown and had Fitz, Floyd. Didn’t need to tolerate those deficiencies.

  10. By John The Draft Guy on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    The cards are interested in Keenen Lewis at CB. Lewis says Arians is one of his guys.
    Here is the answer I am looking for provided his hip passes a physical and he doesn’t sign with the steelers.

    Keim, this is what you are best at. Get that one year deal done. Jump into that mix and land the answer to the question, who plays opposite of PP.

    With Lewis, who, when healthy, is in the conversation as one of the top 10 CBs in the NFL, the cards have a solid CB opposite PP. That would allow Mike Jenkins to drop into the slot and Williams a year to learn how to play the position.

    This , again if he is healthy, would be a GREAT signing. A CB like this will cause a QB to hold the ball that split second longer and let Chandler Jones and company get home.

  11. By Hammy on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    Anyway ELLINGTON can contribute to this team is a good thing. I think we should keep JJ back there to handle the punt returns due to his blazing speed. Hope it works out for him. I think the last time we had a punt return for a TD was during P2’s rookie season.

  12. By Kevin S Mesa on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    It would be great to see Ellington contributing to this team on returns, and then in limited duty on offense. A few touches a game.

    When Arians was talking about 20-25 touches a game for him, I was just cringing. He’s not that kind of weapon.

    David Johnson is the workhorse; Chris Johnson can spell David for an occasional series; and then Ellington is the guy you throw in to mix it up.

  13. By edijkstra on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    Ginn had a 71-yard punt return touchdown for the Cardinals against the Giants in 2014. The video is on It was much needed at the time – the Cardinals had trailed by 1.

  14. By FELIX on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    My Guys Aren’t Looking To Good In Pre. Will They Be Ready For Next Game.

  15. By Scott H on Aug 23, 2016 | Reply

    RE: the ONE good return Ginn had for the Cardinals in 2014

    Yeah, that was a nice contribution at a good time. But that is what he was getting PAID for. That was his damn job. Too bad he did NOTHING else – either as a return man OR a WR – for the rest of the season. He was a bust, plan and simple. For whatever reason, he only seems to want to play for the Panthers. And they can have his sorry you-know-what.

    He had very good seasons for Carolina in 2013 and 2015 In between, he stole money from the Cardinals in 2014. Friggin bum….

  16. By Scott H on Aug 24, 2016 | Reply

    Never a bad thing to see ( a healthy ) Ellington get his hands on the ball any way he can. But….makes me a little nervous that he is just learning this now. And if they are bringing Ellington into this picture at this point, does that mean that Nelson made that necessary by not inspiring a lot of confidence in him? Can’t help wondering….

  17. By mitchaz on Aug 24, 2016 | Reply

    What haunts me to this day is the playoff game at Carolina two years ago…even though Ryan Lindley was the QB, the Cardinals had the lead 14-13 at half-time. In the 3rd quarter, Fozzy Whitaker scores on a 39 yard pass from Cam Newton to make it 20-14 Carolina.

    Graham Gano boots the ensuing kickoff 73 yards (8 yards deep into the end zone). Touchback, right?

    No—Ted Ginn Jr. returns it—and looks super tentative (per usual the second half of that season)—he’s tackled at the 8 yard line—and instead of tucking the ball in and protecting it, he easily coughs it up—he left the ball fully exposed (so much so I wondered at the time if it was intentional)—the Panthers hop on it—and get a gift-wrapped 1st and goal at the 3 which they score on (following a questionable 3rd and goal pass interference call on Tony Jefferson)—Mike Tolbert scored the TD and Carolina has now with a matter of two minutes gone from being behind 14-13 to being ahead 27-14. And with Ryan Lindley at QB, that’s too much to come back from.

    The fact is that Ginn had no business even returning the ball, 8 yards deep into the end zone. Furthermore, if the Cardinals’ coaches had held Ginn and any other punt or kickoff returners to higher standards, Ginn wouldn’t have even been on the field. His returns for more than half a year were half-hearted and gutless.

    Same with Peterson last year—and then just when the Cardinals were showing some signs of momentum versus Carolina, he muffs a punt that gives the momentum and the ball right back to Carolina—again on a poor decision to even try to catch that short punt on a full sprint.

    Carolina does a much better job coaching their STs—their staff insists on mental and physical toughness. The Cardinals’ staff on STs tolerates mediocrity and half-hearted efforts. And worse of all, they stick with players who repeatedly shy away from the challenge.

    This has got to change if the Cardinals are going to be serious contenders.

  18. By Scott H on Aug 24, 2016 | Reply

    mitchaz –

    Well, said brother. Always glad to hear from someone who holds Ginn in the same contempt as I do. Everything you said about Ginn in that last post was music to my ears. During his one lousy season here, he reached a point of not even being worthy of the title “return specialist” anymore. Because inherent in the title “return specialist” is the word RETURN. And Ginn barely returned anything. What he became was a FAIR CATCH specialist and, well, I must say, he did excel at that. Then again, he was getting plenty of practice during the games. Too bad most of them seemed to be taking place right around or inside of our own 10 yard line.

    He has to be one of our worst FA signings of all time. He came NOWHERE close to the expectations we could have reasonably had for him.

  19. By Don Storebo on Aug 25, 2016 | Reply

    I have they will take it. All or aim ut 50$

  20. By CARDS62 on Aug 25, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG I am with you. Getting K. Lewis will be great for our defense. I think even bigger than resigning Freeney, and I wanted Freeney back big time.

    Mitchaz I have to disagree with you on the Peterson play. How many times have we watch return men be passive and let a short punt land and roll for 20+ yards. Peterson should have thrown up the fair catch like he did a lot last year and just caught the ball. Fans you remember Peterson his rookie year for us on punt returns? Man he was awesome. We won a couple of games because of his returns. Primetime Sanders returned punts his entire career I believe and did both incredible HOF well. I understand not playing Peterson on punt returns because of injury risk especially this year with the other CBs on our roster, but it should would be nice if he could return a few in the playoffs with the same skill he did his rookie season.

    Mitchaz I 100% agree with you on on our special teams especially our return teams. Special teams decide close games and I have been and continue to be very worried about ours. Will be nice to have Bethal back on special teams. You are also right that those two fumbles were huge in the outcome of those games, but honestly our QB play was so ____ awful that I do not see anything saving us either of those games. I am trying to erase those 2 Carolina games from my memory backs, but didn’t PP intercept Cam Newton on the next play or second play and have a nice return just to see Carson Palmer throw another stupid interception on first down? Carson is the best we could get and I am very glad he is our QB, but his entire career he has always thrown stupid interceptions and the Carolina game I think is the worse game he ever played.

    GO Cards!

  21. By clssylssy on Aug 26, 2016 | Reply

    Ellington is SO fragile, I can’t see him as a legitimate answer b/c I don’t think he’ll last. Our Special Teams probably are our weakest link but nonetheless can be rhe difference maker between a L and a W. I get the impression that Keim is trying to bide his time with the expectation that ST will get phased out at the rate the game is changing and he just doesnt want to tie up resources!
    Some teams have great STs and a TD @KO or a PR can often time kchange the climate & the mental attitude of the entire team. This was PP’s biggest claim to fame hos rookie year, kinda like Tyler Lockett (who is another player missed on IMO).
    I wonder if ignoring our need for a kicker means BA plans to go for 2 this year? Would fit w his “no risk it” philosophy and we do now have the talent to get’r done?

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