ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals GM saw ‘vintage’ David Johnson in RB’s Texans debut

Sep 11, 2020, 11:22 AM

Houston Texans running back David Johnson (31) carries the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs in t...

Houston Texans running back David Johnson (31) carries the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The burst and decisiveness, two things that eluded David Johnson in his last two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, were there.

While the man he was traded for this offseason was set to appear on late night TV, Johnson’s debut performance Thursday for the Houston Texans did something to quiet criticism of the trade that sent the struggling running back out of the desert.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, who made that trade, was watching the NFL’s first game with interest.

“I love David Johnson,” Keim told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf Friday morning. “I mean, he is a wonderful person. I know he has that talent and ability in him. And I thought early on, especially that touchdown run, it was vintage David Johnson with the lateral jump-cut, he showed a little patience and then the burst and acceleration.”

Johnson’s pop in a 34-20 Houston loss to Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football was obvious on a TV screen. By the end of the game, he’d carried the ball 11 times for 70 yards and the first touchdown of the 2020 NFL season.

Arizona’s trade of Johnson in March also included swapped draft picks, but it most notably saw the Cardinals acquire DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best receivers in the game. With that, Johnson became the guy who would have to validate a risky move by his head coach and front office leader, Bill O’Brien.

The Texans offense sputtered without Hopkins, something that will further put the spotlight on O’Brien’s decision-making on the field and as an executive. But Johnson is at least off to a good start in using a new environment to turn his career trajectory back on an upward trend.

“I’m happy for him. I hope he has success,” Keim said. “Anytime you draft a young man and develop this relationship, there’s an emotional attachment to him. I’ll continue to follow him throughout his career just as I do for (Chiefs defensive back) Tyrann Mathieu or any player that played for us.”

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