TEMPE, Ariz. — Do the Arizona Cardinals have a running game?
Over their last two games — both wins — the Cards have rushed for 298 yards on 59 attempts. The yardage total accounts for 35 percent of the team’s entire rushing output this season, and has added a level of balance to an offense that desperately needed it.
“We’re just executing,” running back Andre Ellington said Monday. “We’re just taking what we do in practice every day and getting better. Everyone’s on the same page. The offensive linemen are doing a great job and the backs are, too. And the receivers are as well, getting great blocks on the outside.”
Ellington, along with Rashard Mendenhall and Stepfan Taylor, have received the bulk of the carries.
Without the threat of the run, defenses could tee off on quarterback Carson Palmer. Now, they can’t.
“It helps out a lot,” Ellington said. “It frees up those defensive linemen from taking shots at him and gives him an opportunity to throw the ball down field.”
Ellington said the goal has always been to establish that balance, and head coach Bruce Arians noted that it has helped Palmer produce.
“That’s probably the biggest thing that helped him be comfortable,” he said.
It’s probably no coincidence that the running game has improved since Ellington’s role increased, as the sixth-round pick out of Clemson has gained 209 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries over the last two games.
“It just comes in practice,” Ellington said of the increased role. “I bust my butt every day trying to get better. I feel like when I get to the game, it’s just me out there in the zone and I’m having fun. I feel like all the hard work comes during the week, so once the game comes it’s all easy.”