ARIZONA CARDINALS

Arizona Cardinals RB coach Stump Mitchell: David Johnson will be a ‘big piece of the puzzle’

May 28, 2015, 9:14 AM | Updated: 9:59 am

LISTEN: Stump Mitchell, AZ Cardinals running backs coach

The months leading up to the NFL Draft were filled with rumors linking the Arizona Cardinals to disgruntled Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

A draft night trade didn’t happen, but the Cardinals did pick up a running back who put up big numbers in a purple and yellow uniform.

David Johnson, a third-round pick out of Northern Iowa, ranked 15th in FCS in 2014, posting 1,553 rushing yards while finding the end zone 17 times. He is expected to make a big contribution to the Cardinals offense this season, according to his position coach, Stump Mitchell.

“He’s a guy who has a lot of confidence in his ability to play,” Mitchell told Doug and Wolf Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “He’s coachable. He’s a smart young man, he’s physical. He’s going to make Andre (Ellington) pick up his game when given the opportunity.

“He has excellent hands and he’s a bigger target to throw the ball to. He’s going to be a big piece of the puzzle before this season is said and done.”

Due to Johnson’s college productivity in the running game (three 1,000-yard seasons in four years), people may tend to forget how adept he is as a receiver. Johnson caught 141 passes for 1,734 yards and 14 touchdowns during his stay in Cedar Falls.

Mitchell gushed about Johnson’s physicality, citing his ability to run over people as well as run around them. He also conjured a comparison to one of the NFL’s most productive backs over the last five years.

“He reminds me a lot of (Chicago RB) Matt Forte,” Mitchell said. “You can put him outside and use him as a receiver and he’s a good runner.”

Forte ran for 1,038 yards last season — his fourth 1,000-yard campaign in the last five years. He also broke the NFL record for receptions by a running back in a single season with 104.

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