No team was as terrible as the Arizona Cardinals on the ground last season, calling for a complete overhaul in the running back position, putting Rashard Mendenhall, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, at the front of the running game, hoping to bring back his ability from his earlier seasons in the league.
Because Mendenhall had only 51 carries last season, playing in six games, finishing with 182 yards, compared with 1100 per season in the three years prior to 2012, helping the Steelers reach the Super Bowl in 2010, losing to the Green Bay Packers.
For Bruce Arians, who was part of the Steelers’ staff during the best of Mendenhall’s seasons, there wasn’t really any doubt about the identity of his number one running back, and the man designed to be getting most of the touches on the ball, while Carson Palmer tries to show he still has what it takes as a starting quarterback.
There aren’t that many players left from last season’s debacle, as Ryan Williams (who rushed for 164 yards) and William Powell (216 yards) seem to be the ones competing for the backup spot behind Mendenhall, while rookies Stepfan Taylor (Stanford, 5th round) and Andre Ellington (Clemson, 6th round) will try and find their way to get touches as well, in what looks like a wide open competition behind Mendenhall.
He took me personally to a Super Bowl, and I know what he can bring to the table as a runner and a pass protector and also a receiver.
At Arizona there aren’t much doubters in Mendenhall’s ability to recover from his terrible 2012, which also led to his suspension at the end of the season after not showing to a game against the San Diego Chargers. Some think that since tearing his ACL on January 1, 2012, he hasn’t been the same player, but like many on the Cardinals’ roster, Mendenhall has a lot to prove to a lot of people, and luckily he’s going to get plenty of chances to do it.