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There truly is no reason for Rashard Mendenhall to play anymore for the Cardinals. It’s time to see what Andre Ellington can do as the full-time starter, because he outplayed Mendenhall once again en route to leading the team in rushing despite the veteran receiving more carries.
Mendenhall carried 13 times for 42 yards (3.2 yards per carry) and caught a screen pass for nine yards. He also fumbled late in the game deep in Arizona territory that allowed the Texans to score and bring themselves right back into the game.
The validity of the fumble is somewhat in question. It appeared live as though his progress had been stopped, but rather than giving himself up, Mendenhall stood with his back against defenders in a pile, allowing the fumble to occur. It’s a touchy subject, but he could have prevented the controversy.
Ellington carried 11 times for 55 yards (5.0 YPC) and caught two passes for 18 yards. His one-handed reception caused some controversy as well, as it appeared he reached out to gain a game-clinching first down. Instead, he was marked a full yard back, and after head coach Bruce Arians challenged, the play was “confirmed” and stood as called.
Darren Urban offered this take after the game:
There will be much talk—again—about Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington. But guess what? [Head coach Bruce] Arians wasn’t down on Mendenhall at all afterward, so there are going to be no changes. He said he thought Mendenhall was down before he fumbled, so the fumble isn’t going to be a black mark. He said he thought Ellington’s work was just fine, and that was after 13 touches (although two more passes were thrown incomplete to Ellington.) Mendenhall had 14 touches for the game.
It's unfortunate Arians feels that way, because Mendenhall handcuffs the offense more often than not.
Stepfan Taylor can play the part of Mendenhall while providing something Mendenhall cannot: ball security in key moments.
Even Ryan Williams deserves a chance over Mendenhall at this point.