Cardinals’ David Johnson aims to bounce back vs. 49ers
TEMPE, Ariz. — Nothing cures a bad performance in a game like a strong week of practice — at least when it comes to the headlines.
The Arizona Cardinals can only hope that translates on the field for running back David Johnson against the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday.
That’s because Johnson’s fumble after running indecisively against the NFL’s best run defense in Tampa Bay last week didn’t allow him to assert himself as the clear-cut No. 1 running back for Arizona. Even after what Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury called Johnson’s “best week of practice,” that remains the case.
“He’s responded well,” the head coach said Friday. “I like where his head’s at.”
Kingsbury, for the second week in a row, said it will be running back by committee as Johnson shares snaps with fellow running back Kenyan Drake.
“Both guys will have packages and do different things. We change the personnel groups a ton,” Kingsbury said, before adding, “I’m not going to screw Larry’s streak up. But other than that, no. Our guys understand we’re going to put our different personnel groups out based on certain plays and that’s nothing to do whether they’re a starter or not.”
Yet last week in the loss to the Buccaneers, Johnson took 43% of the snaps to Drake’s 64% share.
Which of them earns more touches against the 49ers will likely come down to who can make the bigger impact early on. For Johnson specifically, this week of practice has been about moving on.
As Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf on Friday, Johnson said his decisiveness can improve.
“I think just trying to do too much, trying to make too many reads instead of running,” Johnson said.
“Trying to read the hole too much instead of just playing football.”
In Tampa Bay, Johnson carried the ball five times for just two yards and added a catch for eight before fumbling the ball, earning himself a seat on the bench.
While Kingsbury suggested the move was a coaches decision to ride the hotter hand of Drake — he had 10 rushes for 35 yards — the head coach also suggested after the game that perhaps Johnson’s recent injuries slowed him down. Or at least had played a role in his apprehensive running.
On Friday, Johnson called his performance simply a bad game.
“Biggest thing is what you do after a bad game,” he added.
— Kingsbury listed right tackle Justin Murray (knee) as a gametime decision. The same goes for outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is listed as dealing with hamstring and back issues.
— Kingsbury on playing the 49ers for the second time in three weeks: “It’s been a lot of fun because usually that’s an offseason deal where you’re watching it and you’re saying, ‘Oh shoot, against TCU I wish I would’ve called this or that,’ and now you get a chance to do it immediately. That’s been fun to kind of turn our game on and see it from a different perspective, step back and see, ‘Hey, I didn’t call this, but this would’ve worked,’ and try to build off of that.”