Arizona head coach Steve Wilks acknowledged Monday that the team needs to be more "creative" in finding ways to get Johnson the ball in space, Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official site reports. "We talked about that," Wilks said, referring to his conversations with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy regarding Johnson's usage. "We've got to utilize David from the standpoint of getting him out of the backfield, putting him in the slot, putting him out there to try and create that matchup that we need."
After making a full recovery from a dislocated wrist that cost him nearly all last season and signing a lucrative contract extension ahead of Week 1, Johnson appeared primed for a massive three-down role heading into his fourth NFL campaign. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Johnson has only managed 118 total yards and a touchdown on 28 touches (22 carries, six receptions), with his limited work in the passing game particularly alarming. The Cardinals' puzzling decision to deploy Johnson primarily as a between-the-tackles runner rather than utilizing him in space -- where his high-end speed and agility make him a game-changing mismatch -- seems to have hindered the 26-year-old's effectiveness thus far, so it's at least encouraging that Wilks is receptive to adjusting the team's playcalling. It's unclear if any schematic changes would also be accompanied by a switch at quarterback, as Wilks was unwilling to say Monday whether he would replace incumbent starter Sam Bradford with first-round rookie Josh Rosen ahead of Sunday's game against the Bears.
Johnson took 13 carries for 48 yards and caught one of two targets for three yards in Sunday's 34-0 loss to the Rams.
The issue wasn't Arizona abandoning the run so much as the Rams dominating possession with a 67-43 advantage in snaps. Johnson at least found pay dirt and drew nine targets in last week's ugly loss, but he was rendered irrelevant Sunday in a thoroughly terrible performance by the Cardinals. Despite the concerns regarding team context, Johnson should bounce back -- at least to some extent -- in a Week 3 home game against the Bears.
Although his activity level remained the same from Wednesday to Thursday, Johnson was present and active in the open portion of the latter session, at one point taking on the blocking sled, per Urban. There's no reason to believe Johnson's availability is in doubt for Sunday's road jaunt against the Rams, but Friday's injury report will spell out his potential to play in the contest.
Johnson has been dinged up from time to time in his career, but only a dislocated wrist last season has forced him to the sideline on game day. On this occasion, he was able to work through the back concern Wednesday and has two more chances to elevate to a full participant before the end of the week. Johnson ceded snaps to rookie Chase Edmonds during the Cardinals' Week 1 defeat to the Redskins, which could happen again if the veteran enters the weekend at far less than 100 percent.
It's a well-deserved contract for Johnson despite sitting out last season with a wrist injury. He's just two seasons removed from a 20-touchdown year.
|5||10/7/18||@ SF||4:25 pm|
|6||10/14/18||@ MIN||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 9|
|10||11/11/18||@ KC||1:00 pm|
|12||11/25/18||@ LAC||4:05 pm|
|13||12/2/18||@ GB||1:00 pm|
|15||12/16/18||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ SEA||4:25 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|