Rookie Johnson shows Cardinals' backfield has plenty in reserve
Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians didn't panic when starting running back Chris Johnson and backup Andre Ellington were both hurt a week ago.
Arians just dialed the next-man-up philosophy for Sunday's game at the St. Louis Rams and the Cardinals never missed a beat as rookie David Johnson rushed for 99 yards and added a receiving touchdown in his first career start to spark a 27-3 victory.
"Exactly what I expected," Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said of David Johnson's performance. "He doesn't act like a rookie, he doesn't look like a rookie."
The 6-foot-1, 224-pound Johnson put himself in some pretty select company with his 10-yard scoring reception. He joined Gayle Sayers as the only rookies in league history to notch at least four rushing touchdowns, four scoring receptions and a kick return for a TD in a season.
Even though Chris Johnson cannot return unless Arizona advances to the Super Bowl and Ellington is dealing with turf toe, Arians resisted the temptation to sign another running back and instead promoted Kerwynn Williams from the practice squad.
Williams rewarded his coach's faith in him by tacking on 59 yards rushing on only six carries, including a 35-yard run for his first career touchdown as the Cardinals improved to 10-2 for the first time since 1948.
“They stepped up big,” tackle Jared Veldheer said of David Johnson and Williams. “We made it a point of emphasis we needed to get the run game going again. It was slowed the last couple of weeks.”
David Johnson has joined Gale Sayers as only rookies in NFL history w/ 4+ rush TD, 4+ rec TD & KR TD in a season pic.twitter.com/IEPQ1uaSGm— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) December 6, 2015