Arians unwavering in support of RB Mendenhall

Arians unwavering in support of RB Mendenhall
November 14, 2013, 6:50 pm
Share This Post

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Despite the emergence of dynamic rookie running back Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is unwavering in his support for Rashard Mendenhall as his starter.

''As we go into games, as games unfold, different things happen,'' Arians said this week, ''but the plan won't change.''

Although he has 51 fewer carries than Mendenhall, Ellington is the team's leading rusher with 388 yards in 54 attempts, an average of 7.2 yards per carry. Mendenhall, who has been bothered by a toe injury much of the season, has 323 yards in 105 carries for an average of 3.1 yards per attempt.

Ellington has an 80-yard touchdown run; Mendenhall's long gain for the season is 12 yards. But there's also the issue of what fans don't tend to see, such as pass blocking and veteran leadership.

Still, fans, radio talk show hosts and newspaper columnists have zeroed in on Mendenhall of late.

''That's fine,'' Arians said. ''Rashard can handle it; I can handle it.''

Mendenhall, in his sixth NFL season, said the criticism doesn't bother him.

''I've been around for so long, I've been through so much stuff, that's not really my focus,'' he said after Thursday's practice. ''I kind of keep things on the outside on the outside and focus on my work and my business and improving in that.''

Arians was offensive coordinator for four of Mendenhall's five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. When Arians came to Arizona this season and the roster was overhauled, the Cardinals signed the free agent Mendenhall to a one-year contract.

Most of his runs have come on the inside, where yards have been hard to come by. Ellington, a sixth-round draft pick from Clemson who didn't have a carry in the season opener, has the speed to take things outside. In his 80-yard touchdown run two games ago against Atlanta, Ellington bounced to the outside and then raced to the end zone.

Arians has said that Ellington, at 5-foot-9 and 199 pounds, doesn't have the body to take the pounding of an every-down back. Ellington, though, said he could handle more carries.

''Of course, man,'' he said. ''It comes with the week of preparation and practice. If I carry the load in the game, I'll be fine.''

He shrugs off suggestions that he's not big enough for a larger work load.

''That's their opinion,'' Ellington said. ''I made it this far being the size that I am, why can't I go further? I don't have that doubt in my mind. My mentality is to go out there and be effective in everything I do.''

Arizona's best running game came against Atlanta, when Mendenhall was out with his toe problem.

The team rushed for 201 yards with Ellington getting 154 of them on a season-high 15 carries. Another rookie, Stepfan Taylor, took over Mendenhall's power back role and gained 38 yards in 14 attempts.

Ellington has had more rushing yards than Mendenhall in four of the last five games in which both have played, despite fewer attempts. Ellington also has 24 catches for 216 yards, Mendenhall 11 for 75 yards.

Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin noted that, counting the pre-season, Ellington has played the equivalent of a full college season. But Ellington said he is far from worn out.

''Not at all, man,'' he said. ''`I feel like they take pretty good care of us out there on the practice field so that when we get to the game we are ready to play.''

Asked what fans may not know about Mendenhall, Arians pointed to what happens during the week leading up to games.

''They don't sit in the room with those younger players,'' Arians said. ''If you really want to know what Rashard is giving the room, ask (running backs coach) Stump (Mitchell). Having been a veteran player in that room, he knows what that brings.''

In last Sunday's 27-24 victory over Houston, Mendenhall had 42 yards in 13 carries, including some crucial runs in the second half.

''To be real, I feel like I've been playing really well week in and week out,'' he said. ''Visually, there was a little more out there run-wise. We did a good job blocking. It was visually clear it was a better game. But me, I continue to build clearly to build on what I've been doing all year.''

Against the Texans, Mendenhall fumbled the ball away late at Arizona's 5-yard line. It was a play that Arians thought should have been blown dead long before J.J. Watt stripped the ball from Mendenhall's hands.

Arians said there's plenty of room for both running backs.

''The number of carries, a lot depends on how the flow of the game is going,'' he said. ''If one of them gets the hot hand, you're going to ride him a bit more.''


AP NFL website:


Follow Bob Baum at

Texans - Team News
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Johnson briefly exited Sunday's game against the Bills in the fourth quarter. He said after the game that he was "fine," but felt a "pop" in the ankle. ...
Oct 1 3:41PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. Foster is likely going to miss plenty of practice reps this week before being a game-time decision against the Cowboys on Sunday. Foster said he wasn't 100 percent in Week...
Oct 1 3:38PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (meniscus) has resumed jogging, and hopes to return in a "few... Sidelined since September 7, Clowney was given a 4-6 week timetable upon going down. That makes a "few weeks" attainable, but not ahead of schedule. The Clowney...
Sep 30 3:18PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Texans coach Bill O'Brien referred to Arian Foster (hamstring) on Monday as "day to... Foster himself acknowledged he wasn't 100 percent in Sunday's win over the Bills, managing six yards on eight carries. He'll likely continue to be limited in practice all...
Sep 29 4:20PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Following Sunday's win over the Bills, Arian Foster (hamstring) admitted he "just wasn't... Foster rushed eight times for six yards while playing on just 54.1 percent of the snaps, but did salvage his box score a bit with seven catches for 55 yards. The good news...
Sep 29 8:42AM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson said the ankle injury that briefly sidelined him Sunday is "fine." "I was more scared than anything because I felt a pop, so I went in and got checked," Johnson said. We never like to hear about pops, but Johnson did come back...
Sep 28 5:37PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught three passes for 28 yards in Week 4 against the Bills. He was targeted five times. Graham is on pace for just 36 catches and 380 yards this season, but should be more involved going forward now that he's healthy. He was used in...
Sep 28 5:25PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue had nine carries for nine yards in Week 4 against the Bills. With Arian Foster playing through a hamstring injury, Blue was used in a committee and finished with more carries. He added two catches for 16 yards on three targets. Blue...
Sep 28 5:22PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's Week 4 win over... Hopkins beat Corey Graham for a 35-yard touchdown at the end of the first half. He finished with just six targets despite Andre Johnson missing time with an ankle injury....
Sep 28 5:03PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster totaled 61 yards on 15 touches in Sunday's Week 4 win over Buffalo. Foster was held to six yards on eight carries, but was targeted 10 times by checkdown artist Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was clearly running at half-speed and looked sluggish...
Sep 28 4:07PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25-of-37 passes for 268 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions... Fitzpatrick's only notable play was a 35-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins at the end of the first half. He managed the Texans to a win without any help from Arian Foster or...
Sep 28 3:55PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson left Sunday's Week 4 game against the Bills with an ankle injury. Johnson came up lame on a pass in the fourth quarter and was taken to the locker room. He was able to jog off under his own power and later returned to the game. Johnson...
Sep 28 3:01PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, Arian Foster (hamstring) is moving with a slight limp... Per Breer, the Texans will "monitor his hamstring early in the game, determine his workload from there." It's similar to what was reported by beat writer Tania...
Sep 28 11:40AM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (hamstring) is active for Week 4 against the Bills. Foster will be available for a full workload after sitting out last week. He's Rotoworld's No. 12 running back against the Bills' top-five run defense. Inactive for the...
Sep 28 10:33AM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
According to the Houston Chronicle, Arian Foster will "definitely" play in Sunday's... The chronic hamstring issue Foster has been battling for two months is good to go. "Foster would't be active if he wasn't 100 percent. That means he'll get a full...
Sep 28 10:03AM Read More