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Cardinals GM Keim: Team will platoon at running back

Though Rashard Mendenhall led the Arizona Cardinals in carries and rushing yards last season, it was rookie Andre Ellington who emerged as the team’s primary weapon out of the backfield.

Mendenhall gained 687 yards on 217 carries, while Ellington tallied 652 on 118.

They provided the team with a solid 1-2 punch out of the backfield, which is kind of a necessity in the NFL these days.

After all, while the Cardinals may view Ellington as their number one back, his carries will still be limited.

“I don’t know that there are many feature backs in the NFL,” GM Steve Keim said from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Thursday. “Most teams use a platoon of backs, and that would probably be no different for us.”

Last season that platoon was mainly with Mendenhall, but he’s heading into free agency and may not be brought back. Stepfan Taylor, whom the Cardinals selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft out of Stanford, may be next in line.

But whether it’s Mendenhall, Taylor or someone else sharing the load with Ellington, the point is there won’t be a “featured back” in Arizona, even if Ellington can add a bit of weight like the team hopes.

“Andre, the way he’s built — just his body type — is more in line with guys like Chris Johnson, guys like Jamaal Charles,” he said. “His speed and acceleration, his movement skills — that’s his strength. But to say that you’re going to play him 25 to 30 snaps, pounding the ball between the tackles, you’re probably leaving yourself open for some injury.”