The Arizona Cardinals began their 2015 campaign in style, earning a 31-19 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Unfortunately, they may have lost running back Andre Ellington in the process.
Ellington, 26, left in the fourth quarter on a non-contact injury to his right knee. The Cardinals are currently categorizing it as a PCL injury, per Bob McManaman and Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, but the severity is unknown at this time.
“It’s hopefully a day-to-day thing with Andre,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “I thought it was a lot more serious with the way he down. But it looks like he’s going to be O.K., hopefully.”
Ellington had 12 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown before exiting, giving Arizona a consistently effective presence on the ground. Chris Johnson and David Johnson split the workload after Ellington’s exit, each bringing different levels of effectiveness to the table.
The veteran Johnson got all of the work on the ground, posting 37 yards on 10 carries. The explosive rookie Johnson got exactly one touch and took it to the house, making a 55-yard touchdown reception that helped seal the game.
Darren Urban of the team’s official website pointed out the Cardinals are in a much better spot without Ellington this year:
In the interim, it appears Chris Johnson is the back you want. Head coach Bruce Arians’ unwillingness to give David Johnson so much as a single carry indicates he’ll go with the veteran if Ellington is due to miss any time. The artist formerly known as CJ2K should at the very least be near the top of waiver-wire lists this week, though it’s unclear how much he has left in the tank.
After posting at least 1,000 yards in each of his first six NFL seasons, Johnson had 663 yards and scored only one touchdown last season in New York. He hasn’t had a 50-yard gain since the 2012 season and does not appear to have the same level of explosiveness that once made him a three-time Pro Bowler. Even if Arizona’s offense continues humming, he’s much closer to a borderline flex play than an every-week start.
In long-term keeper leagues, David Johnson may be the guy you want. The Cardinals didn’t draft him in the third round to keep him tethered to the bench forever. Listed at 6’1″ and 224 pounds, Johnson has the explosiveness and the size to be an every-down back. It’s just about him getting the opportunity to prove he can be effective.
With Ellington likely on the shelf for at least a bit, now may be his time to shine.
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