Dealing Cards: Chris Johnson the odd man out, David Johnson on the mend

Oct 11, 2017, 8:34 PM | Updated: Oct 12, 2017, 5:10 pm

Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) is hit by Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (2...

Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) is hit by Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Carrying six running backs on the active roster was not an option. So, when the Arizona Cardinals acquired Adrian Peterson this week, a decision had to be made. And unfortunately, that decision resulted in the release of Chris Johnson.

Twice now this season the Cardinals have parted ways with Johnson.

“It’s tough, because I really love the guy,” head coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday. “I hated the way it happened, before I got a chance to talk to him.”

News of Johnson’s release broke prior to any official announcement by the team, and apparently, judging by Arians’ comments, prior to any formal conversation with the 10-year veteran, who had spent the previous two seasons in Arizona.

A free-agent this past offseason, Johnson was re-signed by the Cardinals the day before training camp. He was then released when the team reduced its roster from 90 to 53 ahead of the start of the regular season.

But when David Johnson suffered a dislocated left wrist in the season opener at Detroit, Chris Johnson was brought back.

Johnson backed up Kerwynn Williams in Week 2 and then started each of the next three games.

In his four-game appearance with the Cardinals this season, Johnson gained 114 yards on 45 attempts. His 2.5 yard per carry average is actually less than the team’s overall mark (2.6), which ranks dead last among the 32 teams in the NFL.

“I haven’t been satisfied with our running game,” Arians said. “No knock on Chris Johnson. I love Chris Johnson. It just didn’t work out. When (Peterson) was available, we thought it was the best thing for our football team.”

David Johnson’s recovery going well

Though still a ways away from returning, David Johnson is making good progress on his rehab from wrist surgery.

“Rehab is going great. Just got my cast,” he said Wednesday. “It’s feeling good. Wrist is feeling great, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Currently on injured reserve, Johnson is not eligible to return until Nov. 9 against Seattle, at the earliest. And that’s a best-case scenario. The Cardinals have been more conservative in their estimates, targeting late November, early December.

Johnson, however, offered no timetable when speaking to reporters.

“Just see what happens,” he said.


The trade for Peterson wasn’t the only roster move the Cardinals made this week. They also added a long snapper, veteran Justin Drescher to replace the injured Aaron Brewer.

Drescher played the past seven seasons with the New Orleans Saints. A leg injury in the preseason, however, led to an injury settlement and his subsequent release.

“He’s been in the league before, so we feel very, very comfortable (with him), “ Arians said.

The Cardinals also re-signed offensive lineman Givens Price to the practice squad. He takes the place of guard Dorian Johnson, who was signed to the active roster of the Houston Texans.

Price originally joined the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent from Nebraska in 2016.

Meanwhile, Johnson was the team’s fourth-round pick (115th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft.

“He struggled in pass protection,” Arians said, “and we saw progress, but not the speed that we would have liked to add him on the active roster.”


A case of good news, bad news with the Cardinals’ first injury report of the week.

Here’s the good: Only one player, defensive lineman Olsen Pierre (ankle), didn’t practice—it was more of a walk-through, though—on Wednesday. Pierre is expected to miss some time, too, according to Arians.

Now the bad: Several players, 12 in fact, were limited. Among them were right tackle Jared Veldheer (knee) and defensive lineman Corey Peters (knee), both of whom left Sunday’s game at Philadelphia only to return a short time later.

“It’s sore,” Arians said, referring to Veldheer’s knee. “He and Corey, we’ll see (Thursday) in pads how they handle it.”

Practice on Thursday will also go a long way in determining whether or not left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and guard Alex Boone (chest) will be able to play this week.

“They’re going to practice tomorrow,” Arians said. “I’m hopeful as hell that they’re going to get through practice tomorrow.”

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