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KeeSean Johnson Keeps Quiet While Turning Heads 

Notes: Sixth-round receiver impressing; injury update; getting used to the sun

WR KeeSean Johnson has caught the eye of coaches during training camp.
WR KeeSean Johnson has caught the eye of coaches during training camp.

KeeSean Johnson doesn't have the mouth of his namesake.

A media member recently tossed the Cardinals' rookie receiver some bait, asking if he wanted quarterbacks to just throw him the damn ball, a la former Jets pass-catcher Keyshawn Johnson.

The Cardinals' Johnson chuckled, but demurred.

"Not like that," he said. "I just want to win as a team."

While Johnson may not have the same penchant for gab, it's looking increasingly likely that he will follow in Keyshawn's footsteps and become a productive wide receiver in the NFL. The sixth-round pick was the third receiver the Cardinals selected in the draft but has quickly shot up the depth chart, getting regular work with the first team in practice.

"Early on, KeeSean Johnson has looked fantastic," General Manager Steve Keim said on NFL Network. "He's a guy that, I think, could break out as a rookie. He's a really natural route-runner. To me, one of the most natural route-runners in the draft. To be able to get him later in Day 3 was a good get."

The Cardinals are set at slot receiver with Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald. The outside spots are up for grabs and Johnson is making his case. He had the longest touchdown catch to this point in training camp on Tuesday, hauling in a 65-yard bomb from Brett Hundley in 11-on-11.

"He's amazing," Hundley said. "I love him. High praise for him. He fights for the ball. Great hands. He has a good mind. I think that's the biggest thing with young guys, just understanding if you make a mistake, bounce back. He's really, really come along."

Johnson said the start of his NFL career was a culture shock, knowing he would have to go against someone like star cornerback Patrick Peterson in practice. Johnson dropped to the sixth-round because of concerns he didn't have the foot speed to succeed against professional cover men, but he has proven that his other strengths more than make up for it.

"My route-running ability and my catching ability, I feel like those two things will take me a long way," Johnson said.


The Cardinals activated linebacker Dante Booker off the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, leaving tight end Charles Clay (knee), guard Max Garcia (knee) and cornerback Brandon Williams (back) as the final three players on PUP.

Safety D.J. Swearinger and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine also remain sidelined with injuries, and coach Kliff Kingsbury said "all of them are pretty close" to returning.

"As we get into the preseason games, I would expect them to start getting back into practice," Kingsbury said.

Wide receiver Chad Williams has missed the past few practices with a "soft-tissue, lower-body issue," Kingsbury said. The former third-round pick is trying to stick on the roster in his third season.

"We hope to get him back soon so we can continue to evaluate," Kingsbury said.


The Cardinals will practice outside on Friday morning. Kingsbury wants to get his wide receivers and returners used to the glare of the sun for when the team plays in outdoor stadiums. The first such game of the regular season will be Week 2 in Baltimore.

To this point, the Cardinals have held all of their training camp practices inside State Farm Stadium with the roof closed, although the team's offseason work was all outside.

Images from Tuesday afternoon's practice at State Farm Stadium