Cardinals running back David Johnson believes defenses will game-plan for him differently in 2017.
There is a memorable scene in the Cardinals' All or Nothing documentary in which running backs coach Stump Mitchell tells David Johnson, then a rookie, that he should be a Hall of Famer once his playing days are over.
The statement seemed hyperbolic at the time but now seems realistic, and Mitchell's impressive crystal ball wasn't done there. He was also the first to broach the idea of Johnson accumulating 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season, a feat only accomplished by Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk.
Johnson said he was so consumed by transitioning to the NFL as a rookie that he didn't pay the idea much attention when Mitchell first brought it up. But it was an oft-talked about milestone in 2016 as Johnson threatened to join the party, and while he ultimately fell short, it's firmly on his mind for 2017.
"I was so close last year, man, that it's my No. 1 goal, to get that 1,000 and 1,000," Johnson said.
Johnson easily surpassed the rushing threshold in 2016 with 1,239 yards, but fell 121 yards short of 1,000 receiving. He had three catches for 38 yards within the first 10 minutes and 21 seconds of the season finale against the Rams before leaving with a knee injury.
Between those lost targets and some mental errors early in the season, coach Bruce Arians felt like it was a missed opportunity.
"He should have had it last year," Arians told NFL Network. "He busted some routes in September that would have put him over easily. I was on his tail a little bit early on in the season. I think he probably had a chance had he not gotten hurt in that last game."
Arians has said multiple times this offseason that he would like to get Johnson 30 touches per game in 2017. If that happens, Johnson would seem wholly capable of reaching the 1,000-1,000 landmark.
However, Johnson is aware that defenses may make it difficult. While they can't control his number of carries, defensive coordinators can run schemes that slow his effectiveness in the passing game.
"I think they will definitely game-plan different," Johnson said. "Maybe put a safety instead of a linebacker on me. I hope they don't, but it feels great to have that recognition, that I'm an impact player that they need to watch for."
Only 25 players reached 1,000 receiving yards last season, so it's not an easy feat for anybody. But Arians wouldn't be surprised if it happens, as he sees a young star still on the rise.
"I don't think there is a ceiling for him," Arians said.