Cardinals, running back Chris Johnson agree to 1-year deal
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals and running back Chris Johnson have agreed to terms on a one-year contract.
The Cardinals announced the deal on Monday while the team worked out at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Johnson, who turns 30 next month, played last year with the New York Jets after spending his first six NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
Adding the three-time Pro Bowl player gives the team a veteran back to complement Andre Ellington, the starter who often lines up as a receiver.
Ellington welcomed the addition.
''I'm all for it,'' Ellington said after Monday's practice. ''He's a legend. He's a guy that I can learn a lot from.''
Arizona had the NFL's worst rushing offense last season at 3.3 yards per attempt.
Word of the agreement came shortly after Arizona coach Bruce Arians said Johnson had undergone a physical with the team.
Johnson, a first-round draft pick (24th overall) out of East Carolina in 2008, rushed for a career-low 663 yards with the Jets after topping 1,000 in each of his seasons with the Titans.
In 2009, Johnson led the NFL in rushing with 2,006 yards, earning offensive player of the year honors while becoming only the sixth back in league history to pass the 2,000 mark. Combined with 503 yards receiving, he set an NFL record with 2,509 yards from scrimmage.
Johnson has rushed for 8,628 yards and 51 touchdowns in his seven NFL seasons. He also has been a prolific receiver out of the backfield, topping 40 catches in a season five times although that dropped to a career-low 24 last season.
''It gives coach a lot of options when you have guys that can do a lot of things,'' Ellington said. ''So the sky's the limit for our offense. We just added another big asset, and we're ready.''
Johnson has recovered from a gunshot wound to the shoulder. He was injured when someone opened fire on the vehicle in which he was riding in Orlando, Florida, on March 8. The shooting killed the driver and wounded another passenger.
Arians joked than in adding Johnson, ''we might have the best hair backfield going.''
He was referring to the long locks of Johnson, Ellington and Robert Hughes.
Ellington and Johnson have a similar style.
''I studied his game a lot,'' Ellington said, ''coming through high school and college. He's a guy that can go get it. I learned a lot from his skill set ... how he set up blocks and things like that, how he hit the hole and made guys miss.''
And will there be enough plays to make the many playmakers happy?
''You'll have to ask coach that,'' Ellington said, laughing. ''We've got so many weapons it's going to be a fun season.''
Rookie running back David Johnson, a third-round draft pick out of Northern Iowa, has been out with a hamstring injury since the second day of training camp but practiced on a limited basis Monday.
He, too, welcomed the addition of Chris Johnson.
''He's a great back and hopefully I can learn something,'' David Johnson said.
Asked if he felt threatened by the veteran's arrival, the rookie said ''I'm trying to get back on the field first off. I can't feel threatened if I'm not even on the field. Right now I'm still injured and I'm trying to get 100 percent.''
Ellington, slowed by an injured foot last season, also was out with a hamstring injury most of camp before returning to practice last week. He had a 57-yard catch from Carson Palmer early in the Cardinals' 34-19 loss to Kansas City in their preseason opener on Saturday night but was caught from behind at the Chiefs' five-yard line.
''It's just a matter of getting in shape,'' Arians said. ''He was probably a little afraid to open up totally, but it was good to see him out there.''
Ellington, along with the rest of the Arizona first unit, played only the opening series, gaining three yards in three carries, including a two-yard touchdown run.
Notes: To make room for Chris Johnson, the Cardinals waived safety Brandon Person. The undrafted rookie from Tiffin tore an ACL against the Chiefs. ... Arians said the first team will play the entire first quarter Saturday night against San Diego.
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