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David Johnson Chases 100-Yard Record

Posted Dec 16, 2016

Notes: Humphries to sit while Mathieu will play; Hightower returns against Cardinals

Cardinals running back David Johnson races down the sideline for a 55-yard touchdown against the Ssaints.

David Johnson’s first regular-season reception – his first NFL touch from scrimmage, in fact – was a 55-yard touchdown to clinch 2015 season-opening win over the Saints at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“Hopefully,” the Cardinals running back said, “I can do that again.”

If he can Sunday, at home against the Saints, it’d go a long way in helping the emerging superstar on a couple of records he is chasing.

Johnson has gained 100 yards from scrimmage combined rushing and receiving in all 13 games this season, tying Edgerrin James’ NFL record for the most in a row to open a season. To do so against New Orleans would give him the mark by himself.

“That’s elite company – nobody,” coach Bruce Arians said. “That speaks for itself, really.”

Johnson has a chance to break Barry Sanders’ records of 15 games in a row and 15 games in a season if he can cross the 100-yard barrier in each of the last three games. Marcus Allen holds the overall mark of 17 straight, set over two seasons.

“One-hundred yards games,” Johnson said. “Oh yeah, forgot about that one.”

That’s because Johnson’s focus has been on joining the 1,000-1,000 yard club. He has 1,085 yards rushing already, but needs another 255 yards receiving in three games to add his name to the list that only includes Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig.

Still, the 100-yard record “would be cool too,” Johnson said. “To be the only one to do that would be amazing.”

MATHIEU TO PLAY, HUMPHRIES WILL NOT

Arians ruled out for Sunday left tackle D.J. Humphries, who remains in concussion protocol. John Wetzel  is expected to fill in, with Earl Watford at right tackle and Taylor Boggs at right guard.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu will play, Arians added. Arians said everyone but Humphries – including wide receiver John Brown (sickle cell), cornerback Marcus Cooper (back) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (knee), all listed as questionable – would be available to play.

For the Saints, linebacker Stephone Anthony (knee) and cornerback Delvin Breaux (shoulder) are out. Safety Shilioh Keo (hamstring), running back Daniel Lasco (hamstring/knee), linebacker Craig Robertson (shoulder) and center Max Unger (foot) are questionable.

HIGHTOWER LOOKS FORWARD TO CARDINALS GAME

Johnson isn’t the only running back who will be playing Sunday who has made a memorable touchdown reception at University of Phoenix Stadium. Tim Hightower, who took a Kurt Warner screen pass into the end zone for the game-winning points in the NFC Championship game back in the 2008 season, is playing for the Saints.

That Hightower remains in the NFL after all this time is amazing in itself. The Cardinals – for whom Hightower scored 23 rushing touchdowns in three seasons -- traded Hightower to Washington during 2011 training camp in exchange for defensive end Vonnie Holliday and a sixth-round draft pick. Hightower then tore his ACL five games into the season.

The injury nearly led Hightower out of the league. He was cut by the Redskins the following training camp, and he did not appear in a regular-season game again until 2015 when the Saints brought him in and he surprisingly made the team.

Hightower has become part of the backfield tandem with Mark Ingram, his 453 yards rushing the most he’s had since the career-best 736 he had for the Cards in 2010. He trains in Arizona in the offseason, and told New Orleans reporters he looks forward to seeing Calais Campbell – who was in Hightower’s Cardinals draft class in 2008 – and Larry Fitzgerald, who “taught me how to practice.”

“(Arizona) will always hold a special place for me,” Hightower said, noting this game is meaningful.

“I could say no, but I think I’d be lying to a degree,” Hightower acknowledged. “Yeah. There’s a little bit of you want to do well this week. Because again, these are the people that brought you in. … To be able to put another impression out there is always a positive thing.”

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