Since getting a glimpse of rookie running back Andre Ellington’s playmaking ability, Arizona Cardinals fans have clamored for the backup to get more touches and take over the starting role from Rashard Mendenhall.
Those fans got their wish on Sunday with Mendenhall out because of a lingering toe injury, and Ellington may have exceeded even the loftiest of expectations.
The 5-foot-9, 200-pound speedster from Clemson rushed for 154 yards on 15 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown scamper that showcased Ellington’s lateral quickness and blazing speed.
“He’s so talented … he’s always making the first man miss,” Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “He’s really versatile. He’s somebody that can be on the field all three downs.”
Ellington had struggled with pass protection and the auxiliary responsibilities of being an NFL running back like most rookies do. But Ellington said he’s finally 100 percent healthy.
But Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said he’ll “see how everything goes” once Mendenhall is able to return to action, and added that while Ellington started the game, the number of reps he received didn’t increase significantly.
Still, Ellington proved capable of handling even a slightly increased workload.
“He scared me one time when he went down,” Arians said. “But we tried to keep him in space as much as possible.”