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Andre Ellington feels like he’s ‘way ahead’ following injury

Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) is hit by New Orleans Saints defensive back Delvin Breaux (40) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Wednesday afternoon, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians surprised some when he told the media running back Andre Ellington, who injured his PCL in Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints, was expected to practice on a limited basis.

“Yeah, he has a brace and we will see what he can do and what he can’t do,” the coach said.

Turns out, Ellington couldn’t do much at all. He did not participate in practice at all during the week, and Friday was officially ruled out of Sunday’s road matchup with the Chicago Bears.

Friday, Arians said Ellington not being able to practice at all really wasn’t a surprise.

“He’s running, he’s running fine in rehab and no sense putting him on the turf,” he said.

To be fair, no one really expected Ellington to be back on the field so soon after the injury, which was originally reported to come with a 2-3 week timetable for a return. That he was not on the field at all practicing should not be reason for alarm. In fact, according to Ellington, things are actually going better than anticipated.

“Pretty good, actually,” he said of how he’s feeling. “I feel like I’m way ahead, a day-by-day thing. But as far as progress, I feel like I’m going in the right direction.”

To some degree, the fact that Ellington could be back within a matter of weeks is surprising given how things looked when the injury first happened. As far as anyone could tell at the time, it came without contact and led to the third-year pro being carted away from the field.

Naturally, people feared the worst — ACL, Achilles, Patella tendon — but it turned out to be nothing major. In fact, we’ve since learned the injury occurred not on the play where he went down, but on the previous run when his knee hit the ground. He tried to keep playing, but quickly realized he could not continue.

Ellington said he wasn’t sure how bad it may have been at the time, but after getting tested and talked to by the team’s trainers, he felt good about his prognosis. He does not have a date in mind for when he will return.

“We’ll stay on top of the rehab and the treatments, and hopefully I can get back soon,” he said.

Even still, it’s a tough break for a player who dealt with various injuries last season en route to a disappointing campaign. He was healthy throughout the offseason and training camp this year, and was in the midst of a good first game before being forced to leave.

Prior to that, Ellington tallied 69 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries while adding one catch for seven yards. While he’s out, veteran Chris Johnson and rookie David Johnson figure to see their roles increase, and Ellington said he’s confident those guys “will get it done.”

“It’s going to be a special game for them to get out there and get moving, so I’m going to be excited, I’m going to be waiting to see what happens.”

He’ll also be waiting to get healthy. The team will, too.

Ellington was and still is expected to be a big part of the offense, which is part of the reason why getting hurt in Week 1 stings so much. While the Cardinals appear to have enough depth to withstand his absence, the team is better with No. 38 on the field. No one wanted him to get hurt and miss time, but Ellington understands it happens in this sport.

“It’s tough, but I’m a firm believer on things happen for a reason,” he said. “No doubt in my mind the injury happened for a legitimate reason but it’s just adversity. I’ll overcome it, I’ll be ready.”

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