Arizona Cardinals: A look at running back in 2015
By Scott Allen
It was a tough rushing offense year for the Arizona Cardinals in 2014
The Arizona Cardinals had a decent rushing game in only two of their 16 games this season, against the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams. You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think something needs to change here. It would first help that the Cardinals have someone that can stay healthy enough and good enough to do it.
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Health. The running back position was all about health in 2014. Starting running back Andre Ellington was injured from week one and never fully recovered. He rarely practiced this season. He never practiced in pads. His injured toe never allowed him to do so. Then at the end of November, his season was lost to a whole different injury.
It makes you wonder if Ellington has the body to be a full-time rusher. The initial plan was to have him touch the ball 25-30 times a game, whether that was via running the ball or receiving the ball? He was missed in both aspects of the game.
So Ellington went out for the season on November 30th. That left the team with Stepfan Taylor, Robert Hughes, and someone named Kerwynn Williams. Williams had a couple of great weeks surprisingly. He could be in play for the 2015 roster but they need a bigger more reliable guy to start.
Taylor had his injury issues too. He missed a few games in November due to an injured calf. He does provide the same versatility in running the catching the ball as Ellington does but Ellington does it better, so you’d expect him to remain higher on the depth chart in 2015.
So, what does the running back position look like in 2015? Ellington, Taylor, and probably Williams are still around. Hughes could be here but he was somewhat disappointing down the stretch with dropped passes. So do they go after a free agent or draft someone?
Notable free agents: DeMarco Murray, C.J. Spiller, Justin Forsett, Matt Asiata, Shane Vereen, Mark Ingram, Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, Stevan Ridley, Chris Polk
This is a decent list but do any of them fit coach Bruce Arians system? Murray will want the ball more than the system will allow, especially if Ellington remains. Plus, he has injury and holding the ball issues.
Notable RB draft prospects: Todd Gurley would be the type of back the Cardinals could use. However two things. He’ll be gone by the time the Cards want to draft a running back and there are injury concerns since he tore his ACL late in the 2014 season. Others the Cards would probably check out. Javorius Allen – USC, T.J. Yeldon – Alabama, Jay Ajayi – Boise State.
There has been no indication yet what the Cardinals plan to do here doubt we’ll re-visit it…a lot.