David Johnson has all but officially been benched by the Arizona Cardinals, even though head coach Kliff Kingsbury said the team was in a "running back-by-committee" approach heading into Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. Johnson was a non-factor in the team's 36-26 loss in Week 11, having no touches and playing just nine snaps.
Kenyan Drake was the Cardinals offense at running back, playing 61 snaps and finishing with 16 carries for 67 yards and six catches for 13 yards. The Cardinals clearly have moved on from Johnson, at least for now, in favor of Drake -- no matter how Kingsbury slices it. Johnson wasn't on the injury report all week before receiving such a small workload in Week 11, though there has been speculation that he is still dealing with a nagging back injury that caused him to miss playing time earlier this season.
"It's not as much as what he's not showed us," Kingsbury said about Johnson after the game. "KD (Drake), like I said, played really well against them the first game if you remember so we wanted to get him going again in this game versus them."
Drake tallied 15 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers in the first meeting, just three days after he was acquired from the Dolphins prior to the trade deadline. With Johnson battling multiple injuries and Chase Edmonds a hamstring injury, Drake has 41 carries for 212 yards and a touchdown in his three games with Arizona on 151 snaps. Johnson has played just 38 snaps in the same stretch (missing a game) since Drake arrived -- with five carries for two yards.
Over the last three games Johnson has played, he's recorded just 41 snaps, having six carries for four yards. The Cardinals clearly are beginning the process of moving on from Johnson, even though they gave him $25 million guaranteed last season. Johnson is owed $16.2 million in 2020 and it would actually cost the Cardinals $1.95 million to cut him, so they are stuck with Johnson for the foreseeable future unless he is traded.
With Edmonds targeting a return after the bye week and Drake getting the lion's share of the snaps, Johnson has become an afterthought in Arizona. Johnson has averaged just 3.6 yards per carry since injuring his wrist in Week 1 of the 2017 season.