Rashard Mendenhall signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals hoping to resuscitate his career.
His performance Sunday in Tampa was not helpful.
Sure, the Cardinals earned a 13-10 win, but Mendenhall gained just 21 yards on 12 carries and fumbled twice, losing one.
He also nearly cost the team by running out of bounds on a carry with less than two minutes remaining when the Cardinals were attempting to kill some clock before kicking a go-ahead field goal. His saving grace on the play? Fumble number two, which bounced out of bounds and allowed the clock to keep ticking. That play, more than anything else Sunday, earned the ire of head coach Bruce Arians.
“Rashard had a very tough day,” Arians said after the game. “He can’t play that way.
“He can’t run out of bounds; he’s a veteran. To run out of bounds at the end of the game was ridiculous — that was the worst mistake he made all day.”
Arians said the fumbling is rarely an issue for the former first-round pick, and his track record would seem to bare that out. Prior to this season, Mendenhall had put the ball on the ground nine times in five seasons, a span which included 864 rushing attempts and 77 receptions.
However, mistakes like the ones Mendenhall made will not be tolerated.
“We need to practice him a little bit harder,” the coach said. “I think we’ve been too easy in practice on him because of his injuries, and we need to hone him up more because he’s not game-ready.”
Mendenhall battled a knee injury during training camp and has dealt with both a hamstring issue and toe issue in the season’s early weeks.