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Bruce Arians Has Confidence in Rashard Mendenhall as Feature Back

June 20th, 2013 at 7:07 AM
By Steve Smith

'IMG_8580' photo (c) 2008, donielle - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
The Arizona Cardinals took a big step in improving their poor rushing attack by signing free agent running back Rashard Mendenhall to a one-year contract back in March. The former Pittsburgh Steeler is expected to be the lead back in the Red Birds' revamped running game this coming season.

Head coach Bruce Arians coached Mendenhall previously in the Steel City and knows what the 25-year-old former first round draft pick can do to improve the Red Birds' anemic running game.

“He took me personally to a Super Bowl, and I know what he can bring to the table as a runner and a pass protector and also a receiver,” Arians told yahoosports.com. “He's an every-down player. And I think he's looking forward to having an outstanding season.”

The University of Illinois product rushed for 3,549 yards and scored 29 touchdowns in five seasons with the Steel Curtain. He enjoyed a career-best campaign in 2010 when he rushed for 1,273 yards and scored a career-high 13 touchdowns.

Mendenhall is talented but he's missed 23 games during his career with injury and disciplinary issues. He is coming off knee surgery but looks healthy after recent Cardinals minicamps and OTAs.

Mendenhall is the leading candidate to be Arians' feature back but he'll have some competition in the backfield from Ryan Williams and rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington. Williams, the former second round draft pick from Virginia Tech, is battling back from a pair of injury-plagued seasons but will get another opportunity to show what he can do.

However, for now, Mendenhall should be the main man in the Cardinal backfield. The start of the regular season is still almost three months away though so anything can happen until then.

For now though, things are looking good for Mendenhall in the desert.

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Tags: Andre Ellington, Arizona, Arizona Cardinals, Bruce Arians, Football, NFL, Rashard Mendenhall, Stepfan Taylor

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