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More Offensive Focus On Andre Ellington

Posted Feb 21, 2014

Notebook: Palmer could play until 37; Fitz, Floyd embrace roles; Ryan Williams' chance

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians talks to the media Friday at the Scouting combine.

INDIANAPOLIS – He needs some blocking tight ends and he will make running back Andre Ellington a bigger part of the offense, but Bruce Arians was happy with how his offense was playing the second half of 2013 and is enthused about its prospects for 2014.

The Cardinals’ head coach also thinks 34-year-old quarterback Carson Palmer has “plenty of juice left” and could play until age 36 or 37, which would give the team flexibility in their search for a long-term QB if needed.

Arians’ description of Ellington’s situation was the most intriguing Friday as Arians met the media at the NFL Scouting combine. A day after General Manager Steve Keim again cautioned that the second-year back wasn’t going to be a 25-carry a game guy, Arians made it clear Ellington’s role will expand from his rookie season.

Arians said Ellington has been in the weight room and has already added 10 pounds to his 199-pound frame, something Ellington already said was an offseason priority.

“I’ve never been around a running back who stepped on the field and tried to do things he’s never done before and played wide receiver as good as he does,” Arians said. “He plays it as well as most of our starting wide receivers.

“He has a unique talent we want to look at and continue to build our offense around this year.”

FITZGERALD’S MOVEMENT AGE RELATED

Arians changed the role of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald last season, having him play inside and moving him around. Arians said Fitzgerald got more comfortable with it during the season and it helped to play inside where his size could be an advantage. Arians had done it previously in Pittsburgh with Hines Ward and in Indianapolis with Reggie Wayne.

A major factor in making the shift for Fitzgerald, Arians said, was the receiver’s age. Fitzgerald turned 30 in August.

“Guys lose a step at age 30,” Arians said. “It’s just natural. As hard as they train and everything, at 30 it’s just a different ballgame. They accept it, they want to become better players, they say help me become a better player than when I was 26. This is how you do it.”

THE IMPROVEMENT OF MICHAEL FLOYD

Wide receiver Michael Floyd is coming off his first 1,000-yard season. But it wasn’t the yards or catches that impressed Arians the most, it was the injuries Floyd played through – most notably the shoulder problem that the wideout had when he went off for a career-high 193 yards in Jacksonville.

“I think Michael is starting to reach his potential,” Arians said. “He still needs to be more consistent each week. He played through injuries for the first time which is a huge step for a young player to play through injuries. A lot of times they just sit themselves down. He wanted to win, he wanted to help us win. I thought he made great strides. This year, can he do it again?”

RYAN WILLIAMS “HAS A CHANCE”

General Manager Steve Keim said Thursday he still had hopes that running back Ryan Williams – a healthy inactive for all 16 games last season – could play a role for the Cardinals this season. Arians echoed that sentiment Friday.

“Ryan has a chance this year,” Arians said. “He went into training camp (last year) and missed the entire preseason. It’s very hard to become a player during the season when you miss the entire preseason. He did impressive things on the scout team. The big thing, he came to work every day. The consistency of showing up to work every day, that will be the big thing for him in training camp this year.”

Arians, however, stopped short of guaranteeing Williams will be on the team come September.

“There’s always a door number two,” Arians said. “If door number two is better when we look behind it, he could be gone. But he can play.”


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