The Arizona Cardinals turned to Chris Johnson in 2015 in hopes of bringing life to a running game that has been lacking pop in recent seasons.
But it’s a different Johnson, David Johnson, that grabbed the attention of everyone in the Cardinals organization last season.
After being selected in the third round of the draft last May, Johnson didn’t get many opportunities early in the season. However, Johnson started the final five games of the season after Chris Johnson went on injured reserve in early December. Johnson rushed for at least 90 yards in three of the four games in which he received at least 10 carries.
Johnson’s breakout performance came against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15 when he rushed for 187 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries in Arizona’s 40-17 victory.
Performances like that have Cardinals general manager Steve Keim excited about Johnson’s future with the team.
“Just going back and looking at some of things David did on our tape just recently, from a skill set standpoint, it’s scary,” Keim said, via NFL.com’s Around the Podcast. “At 6-1, 226 pounds, a guy who can bend and make lateral cuts the way he does and have the ball skills and the matchup possibilities out of the backfield, he’s truly a three-down back that’s got the size and the strength to punish in the run game and he’s got the skill and the athleticism in the passing game, which is scary.”
Johnson averaged 88.4 yards per game in his five starts to close out the regular season with 4.9 yards per carry.
If Keim’s hopes for Johnson are realized, he could give the Cardinals their first consistent threat in the backfield since Edgerrin James left following the 2008 season.