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From "Big" To "House"

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The Cards took guard Herman Johnson (79) in the fifth round. (AP photo)

Herman Johnson already has a tie to the Arizona Cardinals – the person he liked most growing up was one-time Cardinals offensive lineman Leonard Davis.

Really, that shouldn't be a surprise. Davis was nicknamed "Big" because of his massive 6-6, 360-pound size, and Johnson – the LSU guard the Cards took in the fifth round of the NFL draft – is a shade taller than 6-7 and 380 pounds.

Johnson's nickname, incidentally, is "House."

"He was big, but as far as a player, when I was a little boy, everyone was like, 'That Leonard Davis is something special,' " Johnson said. "They all told me

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maybe I could be like him one day. He was always one of my favorite players.

"He was an inspiration in a way."

Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm said Johnson will be worked early on at both guard and tackle to see where he best fits. Johnson impressed Cardinals coaches at the combine during the interview process and Grimm said LSU coaches talked about how Johnson took direction and was willing to work.

Johnson isn't a finished product. Grimm doesn't think he was tested much in college, something that will change in the NFL. He needs to get stronger as well.

"He still has work to do but he has the size and he has the ability," Grimm said.

Weight is an issue. Johnson said he thinks he proved during the pre-draft season he could manage his weight, while Grimm acknowledged the Cards will likely ask Johnson to drop some pounds.

The size is unquestioned. Johnson was 15 pounds, 14 ounces at birth, the largest baby in Louisiana history.

"He had a good start," Grimm deadpanned.

The Cardinals had all five offensive line starters start every game last season, a run of luck that is unlikely to repeat for another whole season. The line depth was always a question mark.

"We were happy with the depth (last year) because we didn't have to go very deep," Grimm said, noting he wants numbers going into training camp.

"You call it depth but I like to call it competition," Grimm said. "Those guys going to practice with the first group, I want them looking over their shoulder a little bit."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 4/26/09.

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