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Arizona Cardinals running back Johnson brings unorthodox journey, style to the team

LISTEN: David Johnson, Cardinals running back

It’s safe to say that things worked out pretty well the last time the Arizona Cardinals gambled on a Northern Iowa product.

Arizona’s third-round draft selection, David Johnson, has yet to play a down in a Cardinals uniform but has already drawn rave reviews from coaches for his work ethic and mental acumen. Just like former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner.

While comparisons between the two are unfair beyond their school and intangibles, Johnson could embody the blue-collar mentality that made Warner beloved at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Some rookies often take time to adapt to the NFL level, but Johnson said he already feels like he’s part of the team.

“I just showed that I was part of the team and that I was picking up the offense really well,” Johnson told Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “I proved to the veterans and the coaches that I’m able to play right away. I’m able to perform and do my job.”

Johnson said his best football skill comes between the ears, not between the white lines.

“(The mental aspect) definitely is (a strength in my game),” Johnson said. “I think it’s become even easier as I get older, I get wiser. It’s never been too hard to learn the plays. I usually have a little technique to help me learn them.”

Johnson’s technique is an unorthodox one, often relying on technology and phone applications to learn the playbook.

“Using a notepad that I have and just writing down the plays or using one of the apps that I have called ‘Quizlet,’ actually,” Johnson said. “I use it to memorize the play calls and the audibles…I used it like flash cards where you put a word on one side and you flip it over and tyry to remember that word or remember plays.”

The dream, just like Warner’s doesn’t quite feel real yet, Johnson said.

“It’s definitely still kind of a dream,” Johnson said. “Seeing Larry (Fitzgerald) and Carson (Palmer) has made me have to sit back and realize where I’m at…I’m still living in the moment and I don’t think it’ll really hit me until I have that full uniform on for a preseason game.

“Walking out in front of the crowd, everyone screaming. Watching everyone and getting hyped up, I think that kind of the moment I’ll really have to sit back and realize where I’m at.”