Running back Andre Ellington looks for room to run against the Cowboys. Ellington is seeking his first 100-yard game of the season.
After Andre Ellington finished with 95 yards rushing in Dallas, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin decided to good-naturedly jab his running back Thursday.
"Are you ever going to see 100 yards again," Goodwin asked Ellington.
"Why, what are you talking about?" Ellington responded.
The exchange was all about motivation, Ellington said, since Goodwin has "promised us" a dinner if the running game can
generate 150 yards in a game. The Cardinals haven't done that yet, but Ellington's running performances – and his carries – have been going up the past few weeks.
Ellington could have been over 100 yards against the Cowboys, except he lost 18 yards on a pair of carries (Ellington officially had 21 rushing attempts) because of penalties. He also lost carries on the Cards' final touchdown drive to backup Marion Grice – four carries, 10 yards – although Ellington shrugged away that missed opportunity saying he never thought twice about going in to get the five more yards to 100.
"That's not me at all," Ellington said.
Goodwin said Ellington is still trying to break out in the running game in part because, unable to go full speed in Wednesday and Thursday practices, he still isn't 100 percent on the same page with the offensive line and knowing where the cuts and holes will be. Ellington will likely be limited all season in practice because of his lingering foot injury.
Ellington missed a couple of potential holes in Dallas, but "he's starting to get a feel," Goodwin said.
Regardless, Ellington now has had three straight weeks of at least 21 carries – after never having a 20-carry game previously in his career – and is now on pace to get to 1,000 rushing yards. Ellington is also on pace to have more than 600 receiving yards on 64 receptions.
The touches have gone up, Goodwin said, not because of more faith in the foot but because of how defenses have been playing the Cardinals. Teams are using more man-to-man looks, and if they set up to take away others, Ellington is going to be let loose.
He's already evolved into the engine of the Cardinals' offense. Even without a 100-yard game. The touches will give Ellington more chances going forward.
I think he's trying to be smart with me, not beat me up," said Ellington, who said he feels good physically. "I have to be healthy at the end of the season the way our season is going."
PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Bruce Arians said the last three weeks of practice he has watched from his team was "the best three weeks maybe in 30 years that I've been coaching, 40 years."
It's high praise if intangible, and Arians said he wants to make sure the performance doesn't dip. It's the tempo that Arians appreciates.
"When you schedule a practice for two hours and 20 minutes and you're done in two hours and five, you know you have a good pace to your practice," Arians said. "That's what's been happening."
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said that the good tempo starts with the scout team – the guys running the opposition plays and often guys who don't play much if at all on Sundays. Ellington said he can definitely tell a difference from last season.
"We actually enjoy being there," Ellington said. "We don't take it for granted, which I think we did last year. We know what we're practicing for. We have a goal in mind."
BISHOP ADDED TO INJURY REPORT; MASSIE RETURNS
Tackle Bobby Massie (ankle/knee) and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, as did linebacker Marcus Benard (illness). But linebacker Desmond Bishop was added to the report as DNP after hurting his hamstring.
Ellington, as normal, remained limited with his foot issue. Fellow running back Stepfan Taylor reminded sidelined with a calf injury.
For the Rams, linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar (toe), cornerback E.J. Gaines (knee), defensive end Williams Hayes (fibula) and safety Rodney McLeod (knee) all were upgraded to full practice after sitting out Wednesday. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (knee) and cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) sat out for a second straight day. Linebacker Daren Bates (groin) was added to the report as limited. Tight end Cory Harkey (knee) and safety Cody Davis (concussion) were also limited.
CARDINALS-RAMS IS A SELLOUT
The game Sunday is officially a sellout, making it the 90th straight sellout at University of Phoenix Stadium for the Cardinals. The game will be televised locally on Fox, with announcers Chris Myers and Ronde Barber.
Images of past matchups between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Rams