He’s making it look easy.
Arizona Cardinals rookie running back David Johnson is making a habit of finding the end zone. In his first two professional games, Johnson has scored three touchdowns — one each via a reception, a run and a kickoff return.
People are still buzzing about the final item on that list. Johnson opened the game with a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Cardinals’ 48-23 road win over the Bears last Sunday. It was the longest touchdown in the history of the franchise, which dates back to its origin in Chicago in 1920.
Johnson expanded on the play Thursday night during the “Big Red Rage with Calais Campbell” on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, especially the fact that he took it out from eight yards deep in the end zone.
“I definitely noticed I had great blockers, first off, and they had great leverage for me,” he said. “I saw a hole and I hit it, and thank God the kicker didn’t catch me.”
After adding a touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the Bears, Johnson became the first player in NFL history to score on a run, a reception and a kickoff return in his first two games. Because of that the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio is displaying the jersey and cleats Johnson wore while accomplishing the feat.
Despite his early heroics, the third-round pick out of Northern Iowa isn’t suggesting the pro game is easy.
“No, not at all,” Johnson said. “I think I just had a good opportunity and great blockers every time I had the ball in my hands.”
It is interesting to note, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, only 34 players have scored touchdowns in those three ways in a single season since the AFL merger in 1970. Johnson has done it in nine touches.
Johnson’s frequent end zone visits shouldn’t come as a surprise. In his four-year college career at Northern Iowa, he ran for 49 touchdowns, scored 14 more times on receptions and yes, he did take a kickoff return back 98 yards for a touchdown in 2014.
Since he likely won’t see time as a punt returner for the Cardinals, the final frontier could be throwing a touchdown pass. Only two NFL players — Cleveland’s Greg Pruitt in 1974 and Terry Metcalf of the Cardinals in 1975 — have added that feat to the rushing-receiving-kickoff return trifecta.
Oh yeah, Johnson also threw a touchdown pass in college during his sophomore season in 2012.
- Mel Kiper’s first 2018 NFL mock draft has Cardinals taking DB
- Report: Panthers’ Steve Wilks will have second interview with Cardinals
- Rapoport: Falcons’ Armstrong to interview with Cardinals on Friday
- Munchak: Timing not right to pursue Cardinals’ coaching job
- A look at the NFL’s top free agent and trade targets at QB