Chris Johnson knew the Arizona Cardinals didn’t promise him a thing when he signed as a free agent this offseason.
His first and last preseason action was proof he’s not taking this opportunity for granted.
The former Tennessee Titan and New York Jet running back rushed 11 times for 45 yards (4.1 yards per carry) in the Cardinals’ final preseason game Thursday. Johnson, who signed with the Cardinals for the league minimum $870,000 with $400,000 guaranteed, gave promise that his break from football after being the victim of a shooting in March won’t be much of a factor moving forward.
After inking a deal with Arizona in August, Johnson tweaked his hamstring in the final practice of the team’s preparation for their second preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. That kept him out of that game and the next game against the Oakland Raiders.
On Thursday, Johnson showed flashes of the running back that rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first seven NFL seasons and in 2009 joined the 2,000-yard club by rushing for 2,006 yards.
Johnson cut into openings and accelerated well when the lanes were there. Out of a spread formation in the second quarter, Johnson easily found space to work with and took it for a 16-yard gain, his longest run of the night.
He also added a 10-yard catch out of the backfield.
During his halftime interview, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said he was pleased with what he saw from Johnson.
Now, it’s a matter of how Arizona sees him fitting in with a running back group led by Andre Ellington and promising rookie David Johnson.