It has been a difficult third season from a physical standpoint for former Clemson running back Andre Ellington as he has battled through multiple injuries to try and contribute as much as possible for the Cardinals.
The Moncks Corner native had more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage each of his first two years in the league but was limited to only 437 in year three due to knee and toe injuries as well as the emergence of rookie running back David Johnson.
Ellington played in 10 regular season games, missing a month near the end of the year with turf toe. He returned the last week of December and had seven carries for 40 yards and one catch for five yards in a 38-8 win over the Packers.
Ellington is still dealing with turf toe, which will keep him from being 100 percent until next season, but in the meantime he will do whatever he can to help Arizona make a run to the Super Bowl.
The Cardinals host Green Bay in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs Saturday at 8:15 p.m.
Ellington said getting a first-round bye in the playoffs was important for Arizona to get its mind right and prepare for a postseason run after a blowout loss to Seattle to end the regular season.
“Getting that time off last week allowed us to refocus and dial back in on what we have to do,” he told The State. “Our leaders are doing a great job of getting us ready. It’s allowed us to get that hunger again, not playing the game and sitting at home and watching it is a little weird. We’re anxious to get back out there.”
Saturday will mark Ellington’s postseason debut. The Cardinals missed the playoffs in 2013, and his 2014 season was cut short with a hip injury.
Ellington is anxious to play in the playoffs for the first time, and has leaned on teammates with playoff experience for advice.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of the veteran guys, and a lot of them say everything is more mental than physical at this point of the year,” he said. “Our job as young guys is to stay dialed in and make sure that we’re mentally ready for anything that comes our way on Saturday and make sure we give it our all.”
Ellington is one of four former Clemson players on Arizona’s active roster. He is joined by wide receiver Jaron Brown, safety Chris Clemons and kicker Chandler Catanzaro.
Former Tigers offensive lineman Antoine McClain is on the Cardinals’ practice squad. Ellington said it’s great having so many familiar faces around the locker room.
“It’s been fun, man. Anytime you’ve got guys from your school it’s kind of like family,” he said. “That’s what we thrive off of at Clemson. It’s all about family, and having guys on our team now makes it feel like home.”
Ellington attended the National Championship game Monday as the Tigers lost a 45-40 heartbreaker to Alabama. Still, he said he enjoyed meeting up with fellow former Clemson players.
“Unfortunately, yeah, I was there,” he said. “I had a chance to talk to some former teammates and CJ Spiller was there, Charlie Whitehurst, Brian Dawkins, a lot of the former players were there. It was a good reunion for all of us.”
Kansas City at New England, 4:35 (CBS)
Green Bay at Arizona, 8:15 p.m. (NBC)
Seattle at Carolina, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Pittsburgh at Denver, 4:30 p.m. (CBS)