Dec 22, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) rushes against the Seattle Seahawks during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
We’ve reached the end of the 2013 NFL regular season. The Cards came up a game short of the playoffs but that is more than most of us could have expected at the start of the season given all the unknowns. There was a lot of turnover on the roster and one of the biggest changes came at the running back position.
The only running back from the 2012 season on the 2013 roster, Ryan Williams, didn’t even get a single snap in 2013. He spent almost the entire season a healthy scratch on the inactives list every Sunday. A big reason for that was simple, the Cards had found a few other guys to carry the ball.
The Cards started by adding free agent running back Rashard Mendenhall. Of course the first thought most of us had was here we go with another former Pittsburgh Steelers player. Mendenhall, who was injured in 2012, was signed to a one-year make good contract. He missed only one game in 2013 and rushed for 687 yards. Many would say that isn’t very impressive, however he shared a third of his carries with rookie Andre Ellington. Mendenhall carried the ball 217 times for a 3.2 yard per gain average. He probably secured another year in Cardinal red.
Speaking of Ellington, he was an absolute steal in the sixth-round of the NFL Draft. Ellington carried the ball 118 times for 652 yards, a 5.5 yard per gain average. He also proved his worth in the passing game, catching 39 balls for 371 yards, a 9.5 yard per gain average. Ellington may not have the build to be an every down back but he certainly proved he could run with anyone and against anyone in this league.
Another good draft pick up was Stepfan Taylor. He was limited in his touches, as he only carried the ball 36 times but he is a tough guy to bring down and found himself in certain situations where they needed a couple of yards and needed to spell Ellington and Mendenhall.
All three guys should go in as the 1-2-3 guys in the backfield in 2014. I don’t see much changing in the philosophy mindset or the personnel in the running game next season.