The running back corps of the Red Birds should be much improved this season. In order to keep NFL defenses honest, a team should have a solid ground game.
The Cards are poised to show improvement in that department this coming season.
They averaged 96.3 yards per contest in 2013 and with second-year player Andre Ellington as the lead back this year should improve on that mark this season.
"He's always had a lot of confidence, that's what I like about him (Ellington)," Bruce Arians said via espn.com. "He's got that great smile and he can run real fast — that's a good combination. He's got a little more swagger. He's had success in the National Football League."
The University of Clemson product had a breakout rookie season last year – he led all NFL rushers with a 5.53 yard per carry average. As the backup to Rashard Mendenhall, Ellington rushed for 652 yards and was also a dynamic receiver out of the backfield. He is a home run threat with every carry or catch and opposing defenses must always account for that.
Mendenhall has since retired from football but Ellington won't have to carry the load alone. Second year running back Stepfan Taylor has excellent potential and the Cards also signed veteran Jonathan Dwyer this offseason. Arians coached Dwyer in Pittsburgh. Add in fullback/halfback Robert Hughes and the Red Birds are well fortified at the running back position.
"It's a good battle going on," Arians said. "There's a ton of talent with Stef and Jonathan. Robert Hughes is an outstanding player."
That certainly bodes well for the Red Birds. Dwyer has impressed Arians so far.
"He's in better shape and he's running routes and catching the ball better than I remember," Arians said. "I know he'll pound you and can really run the football. I know he can pass block. But he caught the ball extremely well. He made some catches in the red zone for us. That was a surprise."
Look for these four running backs to help give the Cardinals the balance they need to attack offensively in the rugged NFC West this coming season.
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