TEMPE, Ariz. — Following his team’s 13-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians expressed much discontent over how running back Rashard Mendenhall had played.
A free agent pickup in the offseason, Mendenhall rushed for 21 yards on 12 carries while fumbling twice — the last of which came while he was about to run out of bounds with less than two minutes remaining as the Cardinals were trying to run down the clock.
In fact, the only thing that salvaged the play was that he fumbled out of bounds, preventing the Buccaneers from recovering the ball as the clock continued ticking away.
“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 added that he felt the coaches needed to practice Mendenhall “a little bit harder,” as he feels they had been a bit lenient on him due to various injuries.
After practice Friday, Mendenhall said he doesn’t necessarily agree with his coach’s assessment, but knows he can’t have a repeat performance.
“Maybe [the lack of practice time] had something to do with it, but all in all that wasn’t acceptable and I have to do better,” he said. “That’s what I’m working towards.”
On the season, Mendenhall has gained 176 yards on 52 carries with one touchdown. He’s also caught seven passes for 57 yards, but failed to provide the team with the ground threat it hoped he would be. Some of that may be on the offensive line as well as the game plan, but the former 1,000-yard rusher expects better, which is why he won’t forget last week’s shortcomings.
“You look at everything the same way and it’s to get better,” he said. “You look at the mistakes, you look at what happened and how you could do that better.”
That said, he’s looking forward to getting back on the field Sunday against the Panthers because it will offer him a chance to put something better on tape.