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Chris Johnson: "I Wanted To Come Back And Finish"

Running back cites familiarity and success and reasons to remain a Cardinal

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Running back Chris Johnson signs his contract Tuesday while director of football administration Mike Disner looks on.


As a free agent, Chris Johnson looked around for other opportunities. But the running back always leaned toward returning to the Cardinals.

"It was a couple of things that came up, but I sat and thought about it and at the end of the day the best decision was to stay here," said Johnson, who officially signed the one-year contract Tuesday that he agreed to last week. "Somewhere I am familiar. (It was) something we started, this organization and this team, and got so far and I wanted to come back and finish."

Johnson said the Patriots reached out to him with interest and he visited the Dolphins, "but at the end of the day, I just

felt like this was the best spot," Johnson said.

Johnson returns to a different depth chart than the one he left when he hurt his knee Nov. 29 in San Francisco. David Johnson is the unquestioned starter going into 2016. At the time of his injury, Chris Johnson was starting, with Andre Ellington the backup and David Johnson working in specific situations.

Chris Johnson and Ellington now figure to have to fight for carries behind David Johnson, although Chris Johnson said they won't have a problem working together.

"Last year I was the third-string guy (going into the season) and Week 2 I had to step in," he said. "You never know how things will go. I just want to come in here, continue to contribute and try to get to that main goal."

That's the Super Bowl, in which Johnson could have played – he had been placed on the injured reserve/able-to-return list -- had the Cardinals made it.

That missed chance was a big reason Johnson wanted to return.

"I felt like, coming in (to the Cardinals) there was a lot of doubters, a lot against me," Johnson said. "Just the things I was doing and for it to be cut short right quick and not being able to come back and play in the Super Bowl, that weighed a lot. I wanted to give it another shot."

Johnson was on pace to become the Cardinals' first 1,000-yard rusher since Beanie Wells when he got hurt. He was among the NFL leaders in rushing yards when he hurt his knee. Johnson finished the year with 814 yards on 196 carries, a 4.2-yard average, and three touchdowns.

Johnson said he hadn't been following the Cardinals' moves much because he was trying to get his own situation straight, but he had talked to coach Bruce Arians and heard about additions like guard Evan Mathis and linebacker Chandler Jones.

"It's great things to come," Johnson said.

Images of the team's top rushers this season



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