Let's take a look at a few plays that could have Ellington enjoying that same prominence in the offense, even when Mendenhall makes his return. We'll pick it up late in the first quarter. It's 2nd and 11 for the Cardinals at their own 19-yard-line. Ellington is the lone back with three receivers split out wide and a tight end to the right side. Here's the formation just before the snap.
The play ends up being a delayed draw. Carson Palmer sells the pass, and the delay holds the linebackers. It also allows center Lyle Sendlein to get out in front and help create a ton of running room for Ellington. The talented back does the rest, eluding a tackle and ripping off a 22-yard run.
The play call is a conventional, first down run. The Falcons seem to have everything in control, as Ellington appears bottled up for what should be no more than a one- or two-yard gain. With one little bit of shifty invention, though, he escapes Corey Peters, darts to the outside, and outruns the defense. Eighty yards later, the Cardinals enjoyed a 14-6 lead.
With the entire Atlanta defense flowing toward Arizona's feint left, an enormous hole opens up back to the right, sealed by Sendlein and tight end Rob Housler. Ellington takes the handoff from Palmer, cuts back to the right, and picks up a solid seven yards on first down.
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