Rookies Ellington, Taylor give Cardinals 1-2 punch
Andre Ellington had the breakout game for Arizona, but he's only half of what promises to be a rookie combination of two vastly different and effective running styles.
The dynamic Ellington broke free on an 80-yard touchdown run in Arizona's 27-13 victory over Atlanta, while Stepfan Taylor did more of the dirty work inside or as a pass blocker. In his biggest run, Taylor broke a host of tackles, powering his way 15 yards to the Falcons 17.
Of Arizona's 30 running plays on Sunday, Ellington and Taylor had 29. The only other was Carson Palmer's nine-yard scramble.
''Yeah, it's a real nice 1-2 punch,'' coach Bruce Arians said Monday. ''Steph is a pounder and a grinder, and loves it, and a good pass blocker. They both have great hands. Andre, he has so many different speeds, but he also has those great hands. It's fun to develop those guys.''
In a bit of coach double-speak, Arians indicated, sort of, that Mendenhall would get his job back when he's healthy.
''`I'll evaluate it when he comes back,'' Arians said, ''but I assume he'll resume his role, as long as he's full speed.''
Ellington is almost as elusive in an interview as he is on the field. He is a quiet man of few words.
''I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing, just working every day, getting better,'' he said when asked how he would handle the increased attention he's likely to receive.
Ellington and Taylor were chosen in the first draft by Arians and newly promoted general manager Steve Keim.
Taylor, the only player in Stanford history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons, went in the fifth round, the 140th player selected.
Ellington, who twice topped 1,000 yards at Clemson, was Arizona's second pick in the sixth round, the 187th player drafted.
While Taylor went to work on special teams and awaited his chance to carry the ball, Ellington quickly drew Arians' attention as an offensive threat with his speed and agility, although the coach said the player's slight build - 5-foot-9, 199 pounds - didn't give him the durability to be an every-down back.
There were flashes of what Ellington could do in the early games, but it all came together against the Falcons. Taylor, meanwhile, inherited Mendenhall's role of the back who carries the ball in the rugged territory between the tackles.
''We've been waiting for those guys to get their opportunity,'' Palmer said. ''I think everybody has. You watch them play on the scout team against the defense and see what they can do. Just two young guys that don't know any better. They just want to play.''
Palmer, who was just happy to see the running game get going to give a chance for a passing attack to work, praised both youngsters.
''Obviously, Dre (Ellington) had the long one and a couple of really nice ones,'' Palmer said. ''We've seen him do that in practice. We saw him do it in the preseason. And then Steph (Taylor) comes in, 225 pounds, and puts his head down and runs through tackles. Obviously not the speed (of Ellington), but he's the type of guy that you give him the ball and he's always going to fall forward.''
Taylor wasn't at his locker to talk to reporters Monday, leaving others to talk about him.
''Power,'' wide receiver Michael Floyd said. ''When it's short yardage, goal-line or something like that, he's a big power back and we trust that he can make the first down.''
Ellington's 80-yard run, part of a 21-point second quarter, tied for third-longest in Cardinals history and was greatly aided by blocks from Larry Fitzgerald and particularly by Floyd, who pushed a would-be tackler practically across the field. Ellington's 154 yards rushing were most by a rookie this season and fourth-most by any player.
He averaged 10.3 yards per carry, the highest average for a player in franchise history with a minimum 15 carries. Ellington has 333 yards rushing this season in 43 attempts. His average of 7.7 yards per carry is the most for any player with at least 40 attempts.
Arizona has a bye this week, and expects to see much more of him, and maybe Taylor, too, when play resumes at home against the Texans on Nov. 10.
''I guess time will tell,'' Ellington said when asked about his NFL future. ''The only thing I control is to work every day and just try to get better.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx