When the Arizona Cardinals selected Clemson running back Andre Ellington with one of their sixth round picks in the NFL Draft, it was a bit of a surprise because they had already used a fifth round pick on running back Stepfan Taylor, in addition to already having Ryan Williams and Rashard Mendenhall on the roster.
In a recent radio interview for XTRA 910, Ellington tells us that he has something a little bit different to offer.
The one thing that Cardinals fans might be leery about is the fact that he is coming off of an injury. Running backs and injuries are a touchy situation. Beanie Wells seemed to be dinged up every week. Ryan Williams in two seasons since being drafted has found himself with two season ending injuries.
Free agent pickup Rashard Mendenhall has had a major knee surgery. So the hamstring issues that plagued Ellington this offseason could be a concern, but he said that it is"back up to 100 percent."
Listen to the interview using the embedded player or by clicking on the direct link here.
He believes that it was his injury that caused him to drop from a projected second or third rounder to the sixth rounder that he was.
What will he bring to the table that is perhaps not what the other guys on the roster have? "My style of play is different from those guys," he said. "By me coming in, I'll be that type of guy that's a change of pace guy for the offense."
That change of pace means a guy that can break off big runs. While at Clemson, he had some long ones. he had touchdown runs of 55, 68, 71 and 74. He is a home run hitter. "I'm a guy that can take short runs and turn them into long runs," he told Mike Jurecki and Mark Asher.
But he doesn't want you to think of him as only a back you can run toss sweeps. "I live running between the tackles," he said. More importantly, he understands this, "you get to the goalline faster going straight than by going sideways." He told the radio hosts that he can pick up the short yard gains as well.
With the backs already on the roster, he will have to make an impact on special teams. Returning kicks, a la LSH or Powell, could be in his future, and he is fine with that. "I'm willing to take on that challenge," he said about it. "It's just like being a running back, but with a lot of space."
Based on what we have seen in the preseason before, it looks like he would be the guy that gets a good load of carries late in the preseason. Like Powell a year ago, Ellington will get chance for fans to fall in love with him. Powell led the league in preseason rushing in 2012. I would not be surprised to see Ellington break off a big run or two against the third string defenses opposing teams he will face.
Now, does his falling to the sixth round make him an angry player? Nope, but he is hungry, although he will not carry a chip on his shoulder with the team.
"It's just fitting in with the new team," he said about his focus coming in. "I have nothing to prove to the Cardinals."
He cited how they took a chance on him. But he does want to show the rest of the league that they were wrong. "For other teams, I going to go out and approach every game with a chip on my shoulder," he said.
It seems every single year there is a late round or undrafted running back that makes waves in the league. Both Stepfan Taylor and Ellington fit the mold. However, with the type of running ability that Ellington has, he seems to be more the type of back that will get a little more attention with success because he can do the sexy, shiny long runs.
It will be a battle to get carries for sure during the season, but let's hope that he can flash some of that big play ability more than a few times.
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