TEMPE, Ariz. — Running back Andre Ellington has been a revelation for the Arizona Cardinals.
A sixth-round pick out of Clemson, he is averaging 6.4 yards per carry on 28 rushing attempts, and has caught 20 passes for 190 yards. He has scored via the run and the pass, and has proven to be an effective weapon for Bruce Arians and the offense.
Yet, the coaching staff has maintained a desire to limit Ellington’s reps, believing the 5-foot-9, 199-pound player is not built to handle an every-down back’s workload.
He may see a bit of an increase in reps Sunday, though, as starting running back Rashard Mendenhall missed his third straight day of practice Friday and may not suit up when the Cardinals host the Atlanta Falcons.
“If Rashard can’t go we’ll start with Andre and then use Stepfan (Taylor),” Arians said Friday.
The most carries Ellington has received in a game thus far is seven, and he has had no more than 12 touches in any contest this season.
Ellington, who averaged just more than 15 carries per game his senior year at Clemson, said he does not have a “set number” of how many times he can touch the ball in a given game.
“I just go out there and play ball,” he said. “If you start thinking about those things then you limit your skill set.”
Ellington said he’s already been playing the majority of offensive snaps anyway, adding that he’s good with whatever role the coaching staff has in mind for him.
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who said Ellington’s success has not really been all that surprising, adding there is a balance between handling the rookie with care while trying to get maximum production from the dynamic running back.
“You’ve got to be careful and limit his snaps some, but we’re going to try to feed him as much as we can without beating him up.”