When Chris Johnson signed with Arizona this summer, many assumed it was a Hail Mary move for the Cardinals – a random acquisition to see if a once-great player had anything left in the tank.
Well, if this past Sunday was any indication, Johnson isn’t on E. In fact, he isn’t anywhere close to it.
The 30 year-old running back rushed 22 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns in a 47-7 win over the 49ers.
“It felt good,” Johnson said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It was something that I knew I was capable of. I’m just excited to be on the team and to be playing football.”
Not only was Johnson considered over-the-hill by NFL standards, but he was also in a drive-by shooting this past March. He was shot in the shoulder and thought his career was over.
“I didn’t think I’d be playing football,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know what I would be doing at this time when that happened. But I continued to work hard an prayed and those type of things and it ended up working out for me.”
Johnson signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Cardinals in August.
“(Bruce Arians) just let me know what type of team that they had over here, the type of playmakers they had over here,” Johnson recalled. “He was like, ‘I’m telling you right now that I’m not promising you anything. I’m just letting you know that I’m giving you an opportunity to have a spot on this team.’ (I said), ‘No matter where I end up going, I’m not asking for anything. I’m going to come in and earn whatever my role is going to be or whatever my situation is going to be.’ So I got shot, I had to work hard and come back from that. I don’t feel like I put in all that work to get back for anything to be given to me. I wanted to come somewhere where I could earn something.”
Johnson joins David Johnson in the backfield in Arizona, a place that also has two receivers named Brown – John and Jaron. Does that ever get confusing?
“It gets a little confusing,” Johnson said. “But being around those guys every day grinding in practice from morning to afternoon, the film study and all those type of things – just knowing who we got on that team and just trying to make everybody reach their maximum potential to help this team as a whole accomplish our goal (is good).”
From Johnson to Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals have quite the triumvirate – one that would have been without question the best in football in, say, 2010.
Of course, even in 2015, it’s still pretty darn good.
“Even though all of us three guys are older, just to see how hard we work in practice – that’s what a lot of people don’t see,” Johnson said. “Bruce is the type of guy who, he don’t care (what year you’re in). Everybody’s going to get the same amount of work. Everybody’s going to practice every single day. Everybody’s going to get all the reps they’re supposed to get. . . . Everybody practices the same amount to make sure we’re on the same page. We’re just working hard.”
Johnson leads the Cardinals with 219 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. He’s been a huge part of an undefeated team.
Still, he knows it’s still early in the season.
“I didn’t come here just to have one big game,” Johnson said. “I came here to have a big season. I want to win. I want to make it to the Super Bowl – all those type of things. Yeah, I had a good game this past week, but I want to stack those games on top of each other and have good games week after week and be consistent with it. And then once I look back after the season knowing I gave my all, I’ll judge it from there.”