Workhorse back or receiver in the slot, Andre Ellington catching on for Cardinals

Former Tiger led Arizona in both rushing and receiving in 37-34 OT win over Tennessee Titans

Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) cuts past Tennessee Titans cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson (29) in the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) cuts past Tennessee Titans cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson (29) in the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Andre Ellington is a big enough headache for opposing defenses when he’s in the backfield. Now they’ll have to prepare for a healthy dose of him at wide receiver.

The rookie from Clemson chewed up the Titans from all over the field on Sunday, rushing 10 times for 71 yards and adding four receptions for 87 yards in the 37-34 overtime victory. He led the team in both rushing and receiving.

While some running backs get their receiving yardage via screens and checkdowns, Ellington

was running full-fledged downfield routes out of the slot and catching passes with a high degree of difficulty. The most amazing part? This is his first year ever playing the position.

“One day (Bruce Arians) came up to me and asked me, ‘Can I play receiver?’” Ellington said. “I was like, ‘Sure.’ I’ll take on any challenge. I feel like I can do anything.”

Arians has been hoping to use Ellington more in the passing game for several weeks. However, he missed the Eagles game with a knee injury and was a question mark heading into last week against the Rams.

It was clear Ellington was ready for Tennessee, and the offense leaned on him often. He more than doubled his previous career-high for receiving yardage, when he caught two passes for 42 yards in Week 2 against the Lions.

Quarterback Carson Palmer gushed about his ability, calling Ellington a ‘matchup issue’ for opponents.

“If he really wanted to dedicate himself in the offseason… he could be a team’s No. 2 receiver, without a doubt,” Palmer said.

That’s exactly Ellington’s plan, as he said he will look to fine-tune his game once this year ends.

“I’m actually going to work on it in the offseason, just kind of get the understanding of it,” Ellington said. “Right now I’m kind of raw, just going out there playing. I never knew anything about it because I haven’t played it, but I’m actually enjoying it a lot.”

FITZGERALD, ELLINGTON, PALMER INJURED

The Cardinals did not have Larry Fitzgerald or Ellington in overtime. Ellington was sidelined by a thigh injury, although he said the injury isn’t serious.

“Throughout the course of the game I took a few hits on it, but I’ll be fine,” Ellington said.

Fitzgerald suffered a possible concussion while trying to field an onside kick with under a minute remaining in regulation. He will undergo the league’s concussion protocol to determine the severity of the injury. Part of the league rules are that players with concussions do not speak to the media after games.

Fitzgerald finished with six catches for 49 yards. He nearly had a touchdown in the fourth quarter but was stopped at the 1-yard line. Rashard Mendenhall scored on the next play for a 27-17 lead.

Palmer injured his ankle on a low hit by Kamerion Wimbley in the first quarter but taped it up and finished the contest.

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