2013 was the season of #FreeEllington, as the sixth round rookie became one of the league's late round gems. However, the team did not use him as an exclusive or even as a number one back most of the season. After his production in his rookie season, the question is how much will he be used in 2014.
Keim addressed this and other running back topics on Thursday In Indianapolis when he addressed the media at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The plan, as it appears, is that Ellington will not be used as a workhorse back.
When asked if Ellington just needed to add weight to his 199-pound frame to be a feature back, Keim reiterated that the Cardinals are a team that will use "a platoon of backs."
"Andre, the way he's built, is body type, is more in line with Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles," he explained. His speed and acceleration, his movement skills, that's his strength.
"To say you're going to play him 25 to 35 snaps, pounding the ball between the tackles, you're probably leaving yourself open to injuries. So any time we can take a young man like him, add some weight without losing his speed and movement skills, I think you'e doing yourself a favor."
Who will be the guy to share carries with Ellington?
Currently it is Stepfan Taylor and Ryan Williams on the roster. Keim talked up Taylor.
"Stepfan Taylor has been fantastic for us, not only in the pass protection phase but his run skills," said Keim. "He and Andre are really polar opposites, when you talk about perimeter runner than you have an inside pounder like Stepfan, who when the game was on in Seattle and we needed a first down to ice the game, we gave it to Stepfan and he had a 10 or 11 yard run to finish the game.
"He's a guy we have big expectations for us. He's very smart. He's articulate. Great young man, works his tail off. I think the future is really bright for him."
It certainly sounds like the making of an offensive plan for 2014 in the running game, but that still leaves Ryan Williams in a bit of a strange situation.
Keim spoke to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com and Urban wrote that, despite the salary north of $1 million that Williams is due, it sounded like "Williams isn't going anywhere for a while."
Keim did say that the play of Taylor and Ellington "put Ryan on the backburner," but that Williams is "a tremendous talent."
"He's a guy we still have hopes for," he said. "He's still got the ability and I think Bruce (Arians) just wants him to put it all together."
Again, I have written it before. I believe that Williams is around because Keim believes in him. Everything Keim said confirms this.
But that is a talented trio of backs.
The one thing that remains to be seen is if they add a veteran to the mix. Rashard Mendenhall was valuable in that sense. If Taylor and Ellington will be the two main guys with the carries, they might look to bring in a veteran for his presence, much like the team did with Jason Wright and Chester Taylor. He might not see a lot of playing time, but he would be an experienced leader in the running back room.
Which sounds like it will be the tandem? Will it be Taylor/Ellington? Will it be Williams/Ellington? Will it be some of al three?
Right now it sounds like they hope to ride Taylor as the workhorse, much like they did in 2013 with Mendenhall, and use Ellington as the big play threat.