With the season David Johnson is having, there has been little need for a backup running back. Over the course of the season, Johnson has been given even more of the burden of carrying the Arizona Cardinals, and through nine games, he has been up to the task.
Yet, to some, the Arizona Cardinals have a weapon that needs to be used even more.
ESPN asked Pro Football Focus and each of their team writers to discuss a player who has been under utilized in 2016, and Josh Weinfuss named Andre Ellington.
Ellington on the season has 17 carries for 52 yards and only five catches, two of which came in the season opener against the New England Patriots.
From the Insider Article:
Running back Andre Ellington
Pro Football Focus: With David Johnson dominating, it's difficult to find Ellington touches out of the backfield, but based on his receiving prowess, he should be playing more than the 78 snaps he has so far. He had 766 receiving yards and 19 broken tackles in his first two seasons in the NFL.
NFL Nation: Coach Bruce Arians has been saying for about a month that he has wanted to get Ellington more involved, but Ellington's touches won't be increasing as long as Johnson is healthy. Ellington has been on the field for fewer than 10 snaps per game this season. Arians raves about Ellington's versatility and big-play ability, especially when his body isn't getting beaten up as an every-down back. But Ellington is in the last year of his rookie contract, which means the Cardinals will have to justify keeping a playmaker who has been relegated to just a handful of plays per game. -- Josh Weinfuss
The thing is, Ellington has been rendered mostly useless the last couple of seasons, outside of specific plays. He hasn’t shown the same game breaking ability he showed as a part time player as a rookie and at times his second season.
The Cardinals wanted to get the ball in his hands so bad that they put him back as a kick returner, which has been an abject failure so far.
Does Ellington need touches? Maybe, he is a solid playmaker, but at which player’s expense? That is the part that is often glossed over, whose touches does Ellington take? Do you want to see Johnson off the field more? Do you want Larry Fitzgerald targeted less? Should Michael Floyd not continue to see his touches?
Arians has a lot of talent at his disposal, Ellington just happens to be the one through nine games who has had to take a back seat, it happens every year, unfortunately.