David Johnson rocketed to stardom in 2016, but through his first three seasons in the NFL, the running back never felt the need to take on a leadership role with the Cardinals.
The offense had quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald heading up that charge, and his position group was stocked with veterans like Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington, Kerwynn Williams and Adrian Peterson.
Fitzgerald is still around, but between Palmer’s retirement and a youth movement at the running back position, Johnson feels like more of a guiding light as he enters his fourth training camp.
“I’m becoming kind of a vet,” Johnson said. “A lot of guys – not just running backs, other younger guys -- they lean on me and ask me questions about not just on the field but off the field. Houses, anything like that. I feel like that’s probably the newest and most uncomfortable thing I’ve got to learn how to do.”
Johnson uses the word uncomfortable because he’s not used to being vocal on the field or in the locker room when something needs to be said. While he continues to find his voice there, dispensing real estate advice is right in his wheelhouse.
Most of the younger players simply want to know the best places to live in Arizona, but Johnson is a full-service advisor. At Northern Iowa, he worked construction at the school’s dormitories during the summer to make money.
While his NFL role is evolving, Johnson sticks to those maintenance man roots.
“I just had to fix my dang toilet the other day,” Johnson said. “The flush valve wasn’t working so I had to go to Home Depot and fix it. I’m a handyman. I can’t wait to build my own house.”