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Arizona Cardinals need Marion Grice to step up behind Andre Ellington

The second-year back is not as effective when he is the only one.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the 2014 season, we all thought Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington would be great as an every-down back, but the reality is setting in that he's not that type of back.

Ellington is 12th in the NFL with 81 carries through Week 6, but he's 64th in yards per carry, at just 3.77. That's not what we envisioned for this season. Ellington is seventh among all running backs with 188 yards receiving. A big chunk of that obviously comes from his 81-yard touchdown in Week 5. His 19 receptions is good for ninth in the NFL among running backs.

That's not terrible at all.

In fact, here is what his season projections look like.

Rushing: 260 carries 976 yards rushing 3.8 ypc 3 TDs

Receiving: 61 catches 601 yards receiving 9.8 ypc 3TDs

That is nearly 1600 yards from scrimmage. Everyone is good with that, right?

You have to look at this stat, which Seth Cox noted Wednesday.

In the history of the NFL, 425 players have received 259 carries or more in a season, and only 21 players have NOT gone over 1,000 yards. Andre Ellington is on pace to be number 22.

So what is the issue?

The reality is setting in that the Cardinals need a one-two duo of backs.

Look at his production last Sunday:

Quarter 1: Five carries for 39 yards (7.8 YPC)
Quarter 2: Two carries for zero yards
Quarter 3: Four carries for 14  yards (3.5 YPC)
Quarter 4: Eight carries for 14  yards (1.8 YPC)

On the season, he averages 4.4 yards per carry in the first half. It drops to 3.3 yards per carry in the second half.

He averages 4.2 yards per carry on the first 10 carries he gets in a game this season. On carries 11-20 in a game, the average per carry drops to 3.0.

The problem is he wears out by the end of the game.

With Jonathan Dwyer splitting the carries with Ellington, the second-year scatback carried the ball 28 times for 144 yards (5.14 YPC) in two games and averaged 41.5 snaps per game. In the three games without Dwyer, he has rushed 53 times for 161 yards (3.04 YPC) while averaging 53 snaps per game.

Those extra dozen plays per game clearly are taking a toll.

Finding an improved backup means that guy would get more snaps, therefore getting Ellington the rest he needs. You give Ellington a drive or two per game to recharge, you'll see him finish games stronger.

Right now the backup is Stepfan Taylor. He isn't cutting it.The Cardinals need Marion Grice to understand the offense enough to play.

What about Grice so far?

He still "has no role" in the game plan. Grice said he is still "progressing" with the offense but said he still isn't there yet and still "(gets) confused at times" because he will think he's got it, but the coaches will burst his bubble.

That needs to happen ASAP.

Ellington has been dealing with a lingering foot injury. He has not gotten better as games go on. If Grice can get five to seven carries and a dozen snaps per game, Ellington should be a bigger playmaker. He would probably still be able to get the volume of yards he is projected for thus far, but he would have more of an impact on games.

If Grice doesn't and can't, the team has to find someone who can.