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AP: 058a4d8a-ca92-4604-badc-78fcdbd7fe96
Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) looks to run as Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Colin Cole (92) defends during the first half of a NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Rookie running back Andre Ellington has seen his role on the Arizona Cardinals expand in recent weeks, and he's grateful for the opportunity so early in his career.

"I'm very excited," Ellington said. "I'm just excited to be in the NFL, it's a dream come true."

Ellington was a sixth round pick out of Clemson and had to fight his way out of a crowded running back corps during training camp. Even after he made the regular season squad, Ellington didn't get a carry until their second game. He has since established himself as a reliable option out of the backfield as both a rusher and pass-catcher.

The Cardinals have also paired him with Rashard Mendenhall, and the two backs have developed a partnership that might finally give the team the running attack it's been searching for.

"He's more of the pounder," Ellington said. "I'm more of the guy that can come in there and change up the place a little bit. So far, we're working good hand-in-hand so hopefully we can keep that going."

Some have been surprised by Ellington's early success, and that includes the running back, who believed he could perform but didn't think he would get the chance to show it so quickly.

"I was always expecting to go out and play, because I know what I'm capable of," Ellington explained. "It just came to me faster than I thought I would. I guess that goes back to all of the hard work I put in in the offseason."

Ellington is coming off an impressive performance in Arizona's defeat of the Carolina Panthers, racking up 83 total yards. That will be tough to repeat this Sunday as he goes up against the vaunted San Francisco 49ers' defense. However, Ellington welcomes the opportunity and looks at it as just another game.

"I just take on that challenge and try to help our team win football games," Ellington said.

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