Early Touches Get David Johnson Into Rhythm

RB David Johnson looks for room to run against the Chiefs on Sunday.
RB David Johnson looks for room to run against the Chiefs on Sunday.

The Cardinals got the ball to David Johnson eight times on the opening possession Sunday, and he rewarded them with 44 total yards and a touchdown.

The benefit was two-fold to the star running back. Johnson contributed and he also began to get a sense of the Chiefs’ game plan against him.

“The more touches I get, the better I feel, as far as what the defense is doing, as far as whoever is guarding me on routes,” Johnson said. “It gives me a feel of what they’re doing, and being able to utilize and trying to take advantage that way.”

Johnson didn’t slow down -- finishing with 21 carries for 98 yards, seven catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns – and he felt like the early touches were the catalyst.  

While Johnson couldn’t pinpoint the exact time when he settles in, he said the live snaps are crucial because they are a big departure from anything he watches on tape or sees in practice.

“It’s different than what’s going on in the game,” Johnson said. “The players are different. The practice squad guys show it different. They try their best, but obviously it’s different in the game.”

Johnson was excited about getting the ball 28 times, almost 10 more than his season average. The increased usage should continue moving forward, and Oakland coach Jon Gruden knows it won’t be easy to slow down the versatile Johnson once he finds his groove.

“I call him a joker,” Gruden said. “He can line up in any hand. … He’s just a complete, modern-day back. He’s what we’re all looking for.”

BAKER MISSES PRACTICE

Safety Budda Baker didn’t practice on Wednesday with a knee injury. He was hurt in a collision on Sunday against the Chiefs while trying to recover an onside kick. Baker missed a few snaps but returned to the game and played the rest of the way.

“I think Budda will be fine,” Wilks said. “We don’t know exactly how long it’s going to be. A guy like that, you’re going to miss him being out there on the field if he doesn’t play, because he just brings so much in every category: energy, being able to cover, being able to blitz, etc.”

Kicker Phil Dawson (hip), safety Rudy Ford (heel), wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (not injury-related), defensive tackle Rodney Gunter (not injury-related), tackle D.J. Humphries (knee), guard Mike Iupati (back), defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (calf) and wide receiver Chad Williams (ankle) also did not practice. Linebacker Josh Bynes (wrist), defensive tackle Corey Peters (heel) and guard Jeremy Vujnovich (hamstring) were limited.

For the Raiders, wide receivers Martavis Bryant (knee) and Jordy Nelson (knee) did not practice. Cornerback Gareon Conley (groin), center Rodney Hudson (ankle), guard Kelechi Osemele (knee), linebacker Kyle Wilber (knee) and cornerback Daryl Worley (shoulder) were limited.

WILDFIRES RAVAGING ROSEN’S HOME STATE

Quarterback Josh Rosen is a California native and began his media availability on Wednesday calling attention to the wildfires that have ravaged his state. The Camp Fire in Northern California has killed at least 48 people and the Woolsey Fire west of Los Angeles has taken two more lives.

“As they’re evacuating to get out of it on the freeway, they’re getting backed up, and the fire is closing in on people in cars, stuck in traffic,” Rosen said. “I’ve got a lot of friends and family that are housing a bunch of people. It’s not good.”

PETERS THE CARDINALS’ SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD NOMINEE

Defensive tackle Corey Peters has earned the Cardinals’ nomination for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, given annually to the player who exemplifies the most outstanding sportsmanship on the field.

A panel of former players from the NFL Legends Community will choose eight finalists – four apiece from the NFC and AFC – from the 32 candidates, and the winner will be announced during the NFL Honors show on Feb. 2, the night before the Super Bowl.

The winner is determined by a vote of current NFL players. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald won the award in 2014.

Cardinals players face off with military personnel and their families in the annual Pros vs. Joes video game challenge.

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