Arians: Mendenhall to start, Ellington to get 20 touches


Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall is healthy again and ready to return to the Cardinals’ starting lineup. And yet Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says he wants backup running back Andre Ellington to have a bigger role in the offense than ever.

Arians told the team’s website that Mendenhall will start Sunday, but Arians also wants Ellington to get about 20 touches a game.

That sounds highly unlikely: Even with Mendenhall out and Ellington starting in the Cardinals’ last game, Ellington totaled just 17 touches, with 15 carries and two catches. It seems awfully unlikely that Ellington would get more touches while backing Mendenhall up than he got while starting in Mendenhall’s place.

But what is clear is that even though Arians feels a lot of loyalty toward Mendenhall, Arians realizes that Ellington has been the more explosive playmaker of the two of them this season. Mendenhall has 92 carries for 281 yards this season, an average of 3.1 yards a carry, plus 10 catches for 66 yards, an average of 6.6 yards a catch. Ellington has 43 carries for 333 yards this season, an average of 7.7 yards a carry, plus 22 catches for 198 yards, an average of 9.0 yards a catch.

Mendenhall may be the starter, but Ellington is playing better. And Arians wants to put the ball in the hands of the back who’s making plays, regardless of who’s listed first on the depth chart.

21 responses to “Arians: Mendenhall to start, Ellington to get 20 touches

  1. “Twinkle toes stutter step” Mendenhall sucks. This from a Steeler game who watched every single game he played in. Now he’s even worse on the Cardinals.

  2. I am big on loyalty and all but what has Mendenhall done to deserve to be on the field? He has not run the ball very well at all. He does not have the speed to break away nor have had he broke a tackle this year either. Ellington has explosive game. Taylor runs hard. Williams says that he is finally good to go. Why not give him a shot? B.A. clearly knows his team better than me, but it seems like he is being narrow minded in his running backs…

  3. lets see how long mendenhall can stay healthy this time. so far i think the record is 1 game. ellengton should be the starter.

  4. Every time Mendenhall runs the ball, he stops churning his legs as soon as he gets hit. The guy is useless unless there is a big hole and trust me, the Cards O-Line aren’t opening big holes. Mendenhall is running hurt. He is afraid he is gonna get hurt again. Ellington needs to be the starter with Taylor as the short yardage back.

  5. Both are weak, look at ellingtons track record. Just a matter of time. Cardinals going nowhere.

  6. I am willing to bet Arians is trying to prove to his peers that Mendenhall is not a draft bust. I wonder how much sway Bruce had in the pick.

  7. @ Cardfann1, If BA knew his team at all he would be starting Ellington and RM would not be dressing. The guy has not produced at all this year and clearly won’t be here next year. I love BA, but he is overly loyal to this guy who has done jack. It’s time to find out what these guys on the bench can do.

  8. I think Andre Ellington is one of the BEST running backs in the league and I’m a bona fide Saints fan….
    If Cards don’t want him…Saints would. My best to PP and HB..ya’ll geaux!!
    Once an LSU Tiger always an LSU Tiger….Love the Cards next to the Saints. KEEP ELLINGTON!!!!

  9. Has anyone else noticed that every time a coach goes public with a game strategy the actual game is opposite day?

    It makes sense of course, the coach wants the other team to be ill prepared.

  10. All “start” means is who gets announced as the starter and comes out with the first team on the first play of the opening possession.

    That’s all. “Starting” doesn’t mean he automatically gets a certain percentage of touches. Maybe Arians assured Mendenhall that he wouldn’t lose his starting position while injured.

    So he gives Mendenhall a touch or two, watches him fall down the second he makes contact with a defender then gives it Arrington the rest of the game and says after the game that he “went with the hot hand”.

  11. I commend Bruce Almighty’s loyalty, however it is not gonna do him any favors on the field. I would start Mendy, run a series, maybe 2, then pull him. Keep AE in the rest of the game and use Mendy for short yardage 🙂 GO CARDS!

  12. On Ryan Williams the coaches wanted him to get ready and play in the off season but what we hear is that he kept saying he wasn’t ready. One quote from Williams was “my coaches understand”. Well maybe not the one coach who counted.

  13. “Blind loyalty borders on stupidity.” Playing Mendenhall certainly is not in his self-interest nor the teams or the fans. The guy has a nasty habit of dropping the ball at the opponents goal line. If it is loyalty, then ……..!

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