Rashard Mendenhall named starting RB for Arizona Cardinals

USA TODAY Sports

Arizona isn't playing coy with who will be carrying the football this season.

The Arizona Cardinals have named newly acquired running back Rashard Mendenhall as the starter, according to Chris Wesseling.

The Cardinals have had all kinds of problems finding a reliable back over the years, despite taking Beanie Wells in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Wells has never lived up to expectations, either under-performing or, more often than not, sitting out with injuries.

New head coach Bruce Arians, Mendenhall's former offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers, believes Mendenhall is "an every-down player" and primed for an "outstanding season", from his NFL AM appearance.

The other backs behind Mendenhall aren't likely to create a ton of competition. Ryan Williams is the most likely to take some carries from him, but the former second-round pick out of Virginia Tech has never been able to stay on the field.

One player to keep an eye on is rookie Andre Ellington from Clemson. The 200-pound back rushed for 1,081 yards his senior season in 2012 while gaining 5.1 yards per carry. Ellington also had 59 receptions during his time with the Tigers.

SB Nation's blog Revenge Of The Birds says the Cardinals' history in Arizona parallels their history with running backs:

The history of running backs. It's mostly a mess, like the franchise's history here. Go figure.

In fact, only Ottis Anderson in the late 1970s and early 80s and Edgerrin James have ever had multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the franchise.

Mendenhall had been very productive throughout his career before suffering a torn ACL in December of 2011. Last year, the University of Illinois product only gained 182 yards in a limited role.

With Arizona, Mendenhall will be given every chance to succeed after being brought in as one of the bigger free-agent signings by new general manager Steve Keim.

More from SB Nation:

NFL Debrief: The end of football?

Denard Robinson (sort of) ties his shoes for the Jags

What's Andy Reid's place in NFL coaching history?

Will Juron Criner be the Raiders' new red zone target?

Broncos blog talks to All-Pro Von Miller

5 quarterback battles to watch

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