Andre Ellington is now in his fourth season with the Cardinals, but he might not get to be the starter that he once was.
Ellington, 27, started just three games and appeared in only 10 after injuries abbreviated much of his playing time last season. His injuries, combined with those to fellow running back Chris Johnson, allowed rookie David Johnson to emerge as a breakout player.
In an interview with Bickley & Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Monday, Ellington said he felt “great,” and addressed the talent-filled running back room and the logjam for carries.
“We’re excited about it,” he said. “We’re all on the same team, we understand it’s hard to get it done with one guy. To have three guys that are more than capable of getting it done, it makes it that much better.”
Though the talent helps, David Johnson’s monster 2016 probably means the sophomore will start ahead of a more-experienced Ellington.
“It is a possibility (that I start) but when you have a guy like David that’s playing at a real high level right now — he’s getting it done — I just accept my role,” Ellington said. “My role is to be his backup, and someday maybe get a kick return in here and there.”
Ellington’s transition to a backup came with hard work to recover from an injury, even while Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians might have been frustrated having a player on the shelf.
“It’s been tough, but I had to keep the mindset of just working,” he said.” I just kind of felt like (Arians) appreciated the hard work that I was putting in, even though I wasn’t able to perform for him. That’s why I worked as hard as I could so when I get back to where I wanted to be, I can get out there and perform and put a smile back on his face.”
As a backup or starter, having a productive player like Ellington on the roster at all might not be such a bad thing. In 2014, Ellington logged 1,055 yards from scrimmage and 5 touchdowns.
“Being a part of this organization, having the players that we have, we have a playoff caliber team,” Ellington said. “We have to take it one game at a time, but having all the talent that we have, it’s easy to go out there and be myself.”