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Cardinals GM Steve Keim explains expectations for David Johnson, RBs

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Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim admitted Friday the team was spoiled by the unusual success of free agent signings in years past. The midseason signing of free agent pass-rusher Dwight Freeney in 2015 comes to mind, as the 35-year-old had three forced fumbles and eight sacks in 11 games.

The Cardinals might not get so lucky this time after bringing in free agent running backs Alfred Morris and Zach Zenner this week. But they needed the bodies regardless, as David Johnson (ankle) and D.J. Foster (hamstring) are nursing injuries that would’ve left only Chase Edmonds as the healthy man in the position group.

Speaking of which, Keim expects Johnson to be a gametime decision for Sunday’s Week 8 game against the Saints, he told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. But even if Johnson can’t go, the GM feels the team will be in a good spot anyway, just as it was last week — save for drawing the ire of fantasy owners.

“I’m not sure,” Keim said when asked of Johnson’s status Friday. “I think it’s, you know, last week, we managed it and got him to the game and he wasn’t feeling right, so I think it will be a gametime decision again.

“Fortunately, Chase stepped up and [I] can’t say enough good things about him, the way he’s run the football and the way he’s carried himself off the field. I mean, extremely hard worker, dedicated, passionate, everything that we saw at Fordham when he was coming out. And really excited where he is and sort of how his career has propelled.”

Johnson was active for the Week 7 contest against the Giants, but had only one carry for two yards after he realized, as it was later explained, that he wasn’t feeling right.

“David’s a tough guy. So he wanted to play,” Keim said. “Sometimes, players maybe don’t feel 100% and they try to go, and they certainly don’t want to let anybody know — coaches or staff members — that they’re not in a great place. Then at the same time, just like I said earlier, Chase stepped up, and the way he was running the football, we just felt comfortable to go with him.”

With Morris and Zenner in the fold, head coach Kliff Kingsbury wouldn’t say definitively that the signings foreshadowed Johnson and Foster not being available. Instead, Kingsbury said, it was about not making Edmonds do all the work in practice.

“You just want guys to step up and function if they have the opportunity,” Keim said of the pair of free agents. “I mean, there’s a number of things that go into it, specifically learning the offense and understanding what you’re asking them to do schematically, and making sure they’re on the same page with the communication side of it.

“I just think the physical part of it, to me, is half the battle. It’s just really being on the same page with all the other 10 players on the field.”

Morris said Thursday he’s gotten more comfortable the more he’s been with the Cardinals — albeit, that’s only been since Wednesday, officially — but he did say the offense is complicated.

“I do,” Morris said when asked if he expects to contribute. “That’s anybody. That’s the point of coming here is to contribute in some way, shape or form. So how much? I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out come Sunday.”

EXTRA POINTS

— On Patrick Peterson’s return in Week 7: “Oh, fantastic. For a guy to step in and do what he did after missing six games is just really a credit to him, his work ethic, how he kept himself in shape. Just sort of the freak that he is naturally, just a rare cover corner who can do it all.”

— On weather Kingsbury has grown as a coach: “Yes, very much. And I always felt like he was extremely intelligent and had an idea of what he wanted to do. But each week he continues to grow. And that’s the thing about him I love the most is he’s so humble and he just wants to learn and he’s … willing to step outside of his comfort zone and do things that maybe he didn’t anticipate doing.

“And he relies on his assistants. We have a great coaching staff and I think that’s a real credit to those guys, as well.”

— On what Suns GM James Jones faces with the suspension of center Deandre Ayton: “Well, there are two things. Number one, when something like that happens, you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself ’cause nobody else is going to sit and pity you. You just have to move on.

“And then when you’re building your roster, you always have to realize that you can’t forecast injuries and you cannot forecast anything like suspensions. So you have to be prepared when you’re building a roster that those guys that are on the depth chart that are two or three on the list, you have to be OK playing with those guys.”

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