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Andre Ellington Returns To Running Back

Posted Jun 7, 2017

Notes: Ellington battling to make team; Not enough practice; John Brown tweaks hamstring

Cardinals running back Andre Ellington during minicamp on Wednesday.

Rookie T.J. Logan caught a pass and zipped 50 yards to the end zone during minicamp practice on Wednesday morning, which sent fellow running back Andre Ellington down memory lane.

“Just watching T.J. out there flying around, I see a lot of my old self in him,” Ellington said.

Now Ellington needs to step into the time machine himself. The career arc for the 28-year-old has trended the wrong way in his time with the Cardinals, as Ellington went from prominence in his first two years to the forgotten man as David Johnson took over.

Ellington moved to the wide receivers room this offseason in order to add more versatility, but that experiment is all but over, and coach Bruce Arians said Ellington will need to make the team as a running back during training camp.

Ellington’s presence on the roster was never a question before this season, but after re-signing with the Cardinals, he could be battling for a spot in the running backs room. Kerwynn Williams has established himself as the lead backup, while Logan and Elijhaa Penny are pushing to make the team.

“I’ve got to climb my way back up,” Ellington said. “Over the years, I didn’t perform as well as I’m capable of due to the injuries. I just have to keep fighting, try to get back healthy, so I can go out there and compete.”

Ellington averaged 5.5 yards per carry as a rookie, but a litany of injuries in three subsequent seasons has restrained him from flourishing both physically and mentally. Arians said he needs his formerly dynamic playmaker to return to his 2013 form.

“Run harder,” Arians said. “Run tougher. Like he did as a rookie. Once he tore the foot up and the knee up a little bit, he started to look for a place to fall down too much.”

Ellington said it’s a “no-brainer” that he can still affect the game when clicking on all cylinders, but admits he must “eliminate that mental mindset of not trying to get injured and go out there and play loose.”

STILL NOT ENOUGH PRACTICE

Minicamp allows for longer practice times, but Arians still isn’t happy with the rules under the collective bargaining agreement, which limits his time with the players during the offseason.

“I think what you’re seeing now is a greater athlete which is a poorer quality football player,” Arians said. “The game is being saved by great athletes making great plays. But the game itself is getting worse because we can’t practice.”

Once the players are allowed on the field, Arians believes a limit to the contact makes it hard to coach them up.

“We can’t teach our linemen how to play,” Arians said. “We can’t play bump-and-run. (Former Rams receiver) Torry Holt came in and said, ‘Coach, you guys don’t have one-on-one in your scripts?’ I said, ‘We’re not allowed to have one-on-ones.’ He almost passed out.”

STAYING HOME FOR TRAINING CAMP

The Cardinals went to San Diego for a week last season to practice against the Chargers in advance of the preseason game between the teams, but likely won’t do so with an opponent this year.

Arians said the reason is the Hall of Fame Game, which adds another contest to the preseason slate and stretches out training camp.

“It’s going to be a little difficult this year with the fifth game,” Arians said. “I’m not sure I want to hit that much more. That’s going to be the scrimmage for all the young guys.”

JOHN BROWN TWEAKS HAMSTRING

Wide receiver John Brown missed practice on Wednesday with a minor hamstring injury. Brown, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (hamstring) and linebacker Markus Golden (foot) have all been dealing with small injuries, but nothing that should have lingering effects when training camp commences.

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