Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams will start against the Colts.
David Johnson was so good and so versatile that it might take three Cardinals to replace him in the backfield.
With the Cardinals’ star on the shelf for the next several months due to a dislocated wrist, coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday it will likely be a running-back-by-committee approach on offense.
Kerwynn Williams will be the starter, with Andre Ellington expected to spell him and play on third downs. Chris Johnson, who was released before the season, was brought back Tuesday and is also expected to get carries on Sunday against the Colts.
Williams, who is going to remain on punt and kick returns, has a career yards-per-carry of 5.4 but has never been given this prominent of a role so early in the season. He has been released multiple times in the past, but worked his way up the depth chart in Arizona and is looking forward to the opportunity.
“If things go wrong in your career or if other people see you a certain way, I don’t think you can be worried about that,” Williams said. “The one thing that’s remained constant in my career is that I’ve always been confident in myself.”
Chris Johnson said he was surprised when the Cardinals cut him while choosing their 53-man roster. He was asked if there was some bitterness toward the organization for the move.
“Bitter toward being cut, period,” Johnson said. “I know the type of player that I am. Being that it was unexpected, I didn’t ever think that would happen. Of course there was bitterness, but I couldn’t dwell on it. Just made sure I stayed in shape to be ready for whatever opportunity I had coming toward me.”
Chris Johnson had 814 rushing yards in 11 games for the Cardinals in 2015 before suffering through an injury-plagued year in 2016.
“I’m not sure (about a role),” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to help the team win. Wherever I can help, I can help.”
Williams, Johnson and Ellington have different strengths, so they could be mixed and matched depending on the situation. All three have plenty of NFL experience to lean on.
“We’ve all been at this position at some point or another in our career,” Williams said. “That’s huge, having three guys that have done it instead of just one, three guys that are prepared to play and prepared to contribute when need be.”
BUCANNON RETURNS TO PRACTICE
Money linebacker Deone Bucannon (ankle) returned to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday. Arians said Bucannon looked good.
“Just bringing him back slow,” Arians said.
Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (calf) was limited but could practice fully on Thursday. The Cardinals who missed practice were wide receiver John Brown (quad), linebacker Karlos Dansby (shin), tight end Jermaine Gresham (ribs), tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and guard Mike Iupati (tricep).
For the Colts, quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) didn’t practice and has been ruled out of the game. Others who didn’t practice for Indianapolis were cornerback Vontae Davis (groin), center Ryan Kelly (foot), linebacker Antonio Morrison (elbow) and linebacker Anthony Walker (hamstring).
Colts safety Darius Butler (hamstring), wide receiver Chester Rogers (hamstring), guard Ian Silberman (lumbar), tackle Jeremy Vujnovich (ankle) and nose tackle Al Woods (knee) were limited.
D.J. FOSTER RETURNS TO ARIZONA
The Cardinals signed D.J. Foster off the Patriots’ practice squad on Tuesday. It’s a homecoming for the running back after he starred at Scottsdale Saguaro High School and Arizona State.
“Growing up, this was the team that I watched,” Foster said. “Being a local guy, this is who I tuned in to watch every week. It’s definitely a blessing to be a part of this organization. I just want to come out here, work hard and help.”
Foster said he saw news of Johnson’s injury and a short time later received a call from his agent about the Cardinals’ interest.
“Within an hour, I was on my way to the airport, packing my stuff up,” Foster said. “I was excited.”
Foster figures to be inactive until he gets up to speed with the playbook.
“He’s a pretty quick learner,” Arians said. “We’ll see what he does on special teams because that will get him on the game day (active list) faster. It’s hard to dress five backs.”
SCOOBY WRIGHT ADDED BACK TO PRACTICE SQUAD
Linebacker Scooby Wright was re-signed to the practice squad on Wednesday. He was inactive in last week’s loss to the Lions and released from the active roster on Monday.
Images from the first practice of Colts week, including new running back D.J. Foster