To win in the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals need to run the football well, according to quarterback Carson Palmer.
The Cardinals were 23rd in rushing yards and 27th in yards per carry last season, but still finished with a 10-6 record.
The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers finished third and fourth in the NFL in rushing yards, and ended up facing one another in the NFC championship game.
“With the kind of defense we have, there’s just going to be certain games that are field position battles back and forth back and forth where a punt in a certain situation is a good thing,” Palmer said on the Doug and Wolf show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “In those kind of games, these division games, in this division you guys know we play in, I think you got to be able to run the football.”
If the Cardinals can improve on their rushing totals in 2014, even greater success may follow. There’s reason to believe they can.
Second-year running back Andre Ellington led the NFL in yards per carry (5.5) last season, but was 42nd in the league in rushing attempts because he split time last season with Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall retired and now Ellington is expected to become a workhorse in 2014.
Palmer said it’s difficult to address the running game in the offseason because of limitations on contact, but added it will be a point of emphasis by the fourth or fifth practice in training camp.
“That’s when that contact really comes in and that’s when you kind of start see if you are going to be a running football team or not,” he said.