TEMPE, Ariz. — No one likes missing games, let alone a rookie who has quickly established himself as one of the more dynamic players on a team.
Yet, that’s exactly what Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington had to do last Sunday as a left knee injury suffered in practice kept him on the sidelines during his team’s 24-21 loss.
“It was tough,” Ellington said. “Unfortunately we didn’t win the game and I felt like I wanted to be out there and contribute what I know how to contribute, but it’s behind us and we’ve just got to move on from it.”
Part of the process is getting back on the field, and Ellington said he’s ready to go Sunday when the Cardinals host the St. Louis Rams.
“I feel great just thanks to the rehab that I was getting,” he said. “I got some time off, rested a little bit and I feel great.”
Ellington’s return will bring back a dimension of the offense the team lacked in his absence. Last week, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said there are some plays that would have to be removed simply because no one else on the team is capable of running them the way the sixth-round pick does, so the offense was more limited than it normally is.
“He’s special,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “He does things that nobody else on the team can do and not a lot of people in the league can do.”
In getting Ellington back, the Cardinals will have someone who has rushed for 441 yards and two touchdowns while catching 28 passes for 247 yards and a score.
“Andre looked just like himself” in practice this week, Arians said. “He got better and better and more confident as the week went on. He took the brace off and is brace-less now, so he’s fine.”
A healthy Ellington, along with a resurgent Rashard Mendenhall, would appear to give the Cardinals a very productive 1-2 punch at the running back position, which it has not really had this season.
First, Mendenhall struggled while Ellington played well, and then last week Mendenhall played well while Ellington was out with injury. Now they’re both healthy and on the field, just in time for a big divisional matchup.
“That’s what we want to do,” Ellington said. “We just want to have all hands on deck and just go out there and play Cardinals football, and live with the results.”