Cardinals looking healthy coming out of bye week
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)
After a breakthrough performance in Week 8, Andre Ellington might not have been so ready for his team's bye week.
Ellington rushed for 154 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown, on 15 carries as the starting running back for the Arizona Cardinals against the Atlanta Falcons two Sundays ago. Then the Cardinals had their bye, which allowed incumbent starter Rashard Mendenhall to heal up from a toe injury.
Come Monday when the Cardinals reconvened from the break, Ellington was back on the practice field. So was Mendenhall.
''Rashard looked very, very good today,'' Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, ''and it was nice to see him running like that again.''
Mendenhall was running and stretching on the side during the portion of Cardinals practice open to the media. Arians indicated that if healthy, Mendenhall would get the most touches against Houston this Sunday at home.
''You want to have that one-two punch,'' Arians said. ''Andre's kind of got his role cut out. We'd like to, as I said last week, hopefully get him into space a couple of more times in the ball game.''
The Cardinals go into the Houston game at 4-4 and will face a Texans team that has lost six straight. Arizona came out of the bye without much in the way of major injuries to players.
''It looked like we had a nice break. The guys looked fresh, and very good bonus day for us,'' Arians said.
The second part of the season will begin with the Cardinals still in playoff contention.
''That's why you play the game,'' Arians said. ''We take a short-term look at long goals and then get back to the process of making sure we win this Sunday and forget about adding things up. We'll add them up in late December.''
One area the team would like to improve is on third-down conversions. Arizona is second-to-last in the NFL at 31.6 percent. Arians blamed the situation on a conglomeration of overthrows, dropped passes, receivers running wrong routes, sacks and pressure on the quarterback.
''It would've been a lot easier had I been able to put my finger on one or two things and say, `OK, this is what it is to fix,''' Arians said. ''I don't really care who gets the ball as long as we're getting yards and scoring points.''
The Cardinals got a chance to see the Texans on the national broadcast Sunday night. Defensive end Calais Campbell came away impressed with young Case Keenum, now the starting quarterback for Houston.
''He looked like a superstar. He looked like a guy that can do a lot of damage in this league,'' Campbell said. ''Definitely going to have our hands full trying to stop him.''