GLENDALE, Ariz. — It is not uncommon for a football player to spend an offseason rehabbing an injury.
That injury being a gunshot wound, however, is.
But that’s exactly what new Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson had to work his way back from over the last few months. In March, Johnson — along with two others — was involved in a drive-by shooting in Orlando, Florida, that left the driver of the vehicle dead and the other passenger with gunshot wounds to his shoulder, hand and leg. Johnson was hit in the shoulder.
According to Johnson, the passenger who survived is doing “pretty good.” But how is the running back faring?
After all, it’s the type of experience that could be difficult to get over.
“Just prayed a lot,” he said. “I grew up in a church, so just prayed a lot. And working out. Working out helped me out a lot with that.
“When it first happened I was on bed rest for six weeks, lost 20, 25 pounds.”
Johnson, 29, said he decided to up and leave, heading to work out at Jay Glazer’s Unbreakable Performance Center in California. He was in the gym every day, he said, sometimes going twice. It certainly helped, as he’s now in shape and ready to play football again.
But the physical aspect of the recovery is one thing; the mental another.
Johnson said of course going through that experience changed his perspective on life.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to live life and not worry about those things so much,” he said. “And it makes it, you getting a chance to play in the NFL, it makes it even better.”
Johnson is entering his eighth NFL season after spending the first six of his career with the Tennessee Titans and the last one in New York with the Jets. A three-time Pro Bowler, the former No. 24 pick in the 2008 draft out of East Carolina is coming off his first season without reaching the 1,000-yard mark.
In terms of the gunshot itself, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said nothing showed up on the physical that would lead the team to be concerned. And as far as Johnson’s ability to move on from the incident, Arians said he’s confident the player will be fine.
“I have no clue, I can’t say I’ve been in any shootings,” he said. “But that’s a product of where you come from sometimes; it’s a normal thing.
“I’ve had a lot of guys — Dennis Northcutt walked up the street and saw his brother get shot and killed right in front of him. I’ve had a number of guys who have had that happen, and they were fine.”
Thus far, Johnson appears to be fine. He may be that way in large part because he pushed himself. He arrived at Glazer’s gym wearing a sling, which forced him to concentrate on lower-body work until he was cleared.
“I did a lot of lower-body work for the first two weeks, and once I got cleared I started doing upper-body, getting got my strength back and all that. So it turned out to be great in the end.”
Johnson, who has played in all 16 games each of the last six seasons, added that the injury has not changed the way he runs.
“At the end of the day that was a situation that happened,” he said. “I’m just trying to put it behind me and just look forward.
“I’m just ready to start playing football.”
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