Cardinals RB David Johnson: There really is no timeline for injury return

Sep 20, 2017, 3:37 PM
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) is injured against the Detroit Lions during the s...
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) is injured against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. Johnson left the field for x-rays. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
(AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Thanksgiving. Christmas.

The projected return of Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is hard to determine. This much is known: He’ll miss at least eight weeks after being placed on injured reserve Sept. 12 due to a dislocated left wrist.

To his credit, Johnson is not focused on when he’ll be back but rather making sure he is able to come back. And, of course, come back healthy.

“There really is no timeline,” he said. “Really just see how it goes. Just rehab, obviously, after the cast (is removed). We’ll see what happens. I’m really just trying to make sure my wrist is 100-percent.”

On Wednesday, Johnson spoke publicly for the first time about his injury, holding court with a large group of reporters at his locker, something he typically does each week during the season — except now the season continues without him.

“It’s definitely been a tough couple weeks, but I had a lot of support; lot of family and friends connect with me and talk to me,” he said. “This is my first major injury so it’s been a whirlwind, for sure.”

Initially, Johnson thought he had only sprained his wrist. Late in the third quarter of the season opener, he was wedged between three Detroit defenders after making a 24-yard catch at the Lions’ three-yard line. Johnson’s wrist was hit by the helmet of safety Glover Quin.

“Didn’t really feel it just because that same play I got the wind knocked out of me, so I was really actually focusing more on trying to catch my breath,” Johnson said. “When I did feel it, it just felt like it was more a sprain and I could be able to tape it up more and be able to play more.”

Johnson did play more. After a brief trip to the sidelines, Johnson returned on the Cardinals’ next possession, one that ended with him fumbling. It was then that Johnson knew something was wrong.

“I actually didn’t feel the football as much,” he said, revisiting the play. “I didn’t feel like I was holding the football as strong as I normally do, so I think that’s when I realized that something’s not right.”

The next day, after huddling with the doctors and head athletic trainer Tom Reed, Johnson understood the magnitude of the injury.

His injury, Johnson said, is similar to the one fellow running back T.J. Logan suffered in the preseason.

Johnson added he’s heard from a number of his peers, including Ameer Abdullah, Jay Ajayi, Todd Gurley and Tyler Lockett.

“They just say, ‘Keep your head up, keep pushing through,’” Johnson said.

Late last week, Johnson underwent surgery. He currently is sporting a large cast on his wrist and part of his arm. How much longer that has to be worn, Johnson isn’t sure. He wants it off soon, though.

The cast has made simple chores like tying his shoes and taking a shower extremely difficult.

On top of that, Johnson is finding it hard to play with his son.

“I can’t really carry him. I get a little nervous. He’s starting to get a little bit more squirmy so it’s hard to carry him … and my wife, she doesn’t really trust me carrying him either,” he said, laughing.

Despite the injury, Johnson plans to be visible, be it at practice, games or in the locker room.

Just call him Coach Johnson.

“The game is fast. When I was a young guy, a rookie, the game felt fast so I’m trying to help slow it down for them,” he said, referring to the other running backs in the room. “I ask them what they see. Talk to Dre (Andre Ellington), see what he sees. Just like when I was playing they were doing that to me. Just trying to give some feedback on what they’re seeing, maybe give them a couple of tips on how to run the ball or how to do routes and stuff.”

Nothing will completely fill the void of playing, however, and that’s what Johnson misses most of all.

“It’s still tough being away from the team, being away from the sport that I love, that I play all the time, especially not being able to help out the team, not being able to be out there with my guys and contribute to the team,” he said.

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