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Bruce Arians hopes David Johnson is back ‘by Thanksgiving or Christmas’

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Anthony Zettel (69) stops a Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) during an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

It didn’t take long for the Arizona Cardinals to get into a tough spot injury-wise.

Running back David Johnson suffered a dislocated wrist in the third quarter of Arizona’s 35-23 Week 1 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Their worst fears were realized Tuesday when they announced Johnson was headed to injured reserve and could miss up to three months.

Ever the optimist, head coach Bruce Arians hopes to have his Pro Bowler back as soon as possible.

“He’s scheduled for surgery this week and hopefully, as miraculously as he came back from that knee injury last year, I’m hoping we can possibly get him back by Thanksgiving or Christmas,” Arians told Jeff Rickard and Bill Polian on Sirius/XM NFL Radio Tuesday.

Johnson suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the 2016 season finale against the Los Angeles Rams, but avoided structural damage, paving the way for a healthy start to this season. A return around Thanksgiving would mean Johnson could be back for Arizona’s final six games. A Christmas-time return would mean he’d be on the field for potentially one or two contests.

The Cardinals addressed the issue by making a couple of roster moves Tuesday, re-signing veteran running back Chris Johnson and plucking former Arizona State and Saguaro High star D.J. Foster from the New England Patriots practice squad. The duo joins Andre Ellington, Kerwynn Williams and Elijhaa Penny in a suddenly crowded running back room.

The question that remains for Arians and his coaching staff is how to divvy up the playing time among the backs.

“Andre Ellington was the guy that we drafted David Johnson to play behind and then he got hurt and Chris Johnson got hurt, and there’s David Johnson,” he said. “This has happened to us a couple of times so it’s a great opportunity for Kerwynn Williams and Andre and we’ll get Chris Johnson back up to speed.”

Chris Johnson was among the Cardinals’ final cuts as they trimmed the roster down to 53 following the preseason. He’s in his third season in Arizona. Johnson was the leading rusher in the NFL when he went down with a knee injury in November of 2015 and was replaced by David Johnson. He had another injury-riddled season in 2016 and was limited to 25 carries in four games, gaining 95 yards.

“He was the last guy I cut, and it was a really hard one,” Arians said of Chris Johnson. “He was just getting back into good shape and I look forward to having him back.”

Arians could use a few different backs Sunday as the Cardinals visit the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The game kicks off at 10:00 a.m. Arizona time, with pregame coverage starting at 5:30 a.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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