Arizona Cardinals fans have been clamoring for an increased role on the offense for rookie running back Andre Ellington. They got their wish on Sunday when Rashard Mendenhall was out with a toe injury. Ellington dazzled with 154 yards on 15 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He also caught two passes for eight yards.
After such a game, fans were ready to crown him "the man" moving forward. But the players would...that is, except for Patrick Peterson.
Peterson said, "I guess we are going to stay with him and move forward with him, but we will see." He did say, though that he thinks that the whole running back group is solid.
Peterson may have spoken too soon, or he may have been the only who was going to say it out loud.
Head coach Bruce Arians would not commit one way or the other. "We'll look and evaluate how everything hows and how (Mendenhall) responds to the treatment," he said to the media. "He'll play when he's 100 percent."
That doesn't mean that he will be the starter, though. It also doesn't mean he won't be the starter.
Ellington said that Mendenhall is the team's "bell cow." "He's our leader in the room," he continued. "This guys earned that respect. I'm waiting for him to get healthy and get out there and make plays."
He said it would be no problem at all to go back to a lesser role.
Despite the greater role -- 17 touches overall -- Arians did not believe that Ellington played more, saying that it was probably about 35-40 snaps. He said that they "tried to keep him in space as much as possible."
Moving forward, it looks like it makes the most sense to go with Mendehall and Ellington. Stepfan Taylor, who carried the ball 14 times for 38 yards, had a couple of very nice plays, but a lot of minimal gains -- a lot like Mendenhall will have. He will have to be healthy to do that, and now that the team has had success in the running game with Mendy sitting out, Arians can truly let him get to 100 percent before throwing him out there.
Will Ellington be the starter moving forward? Maybe or maybe not. But he likely will remain and must remain the number one weapon. Good things happen when he touches the ball.