When David Johnson was at the voluntary organized team activities open to the media last week but sitting off to the side, coach Steve Wilks declined to get into any reasons why Johnson or any player might not be on the field.
Tuesday, the reason became clear, with the running back absent from the start of the Cardinals’ mandatory minicamp amid reports he wants to get a contract extension.
Johnson is in the final year of his four-year rookie deal scheduled to pay him about $1.9 million this season.
“I try not to focus on (absent players),” Wilks said. “I’m trying to focus on the guys that are here. Again, looking to get better with the ones that are here.”
Asked about his feelings in general about players missing, Wilks said “guys have been dialed in since April 3, learning the system and doing things they have to do in each phase.”
“David is not here and we have to keep going,” Wilks added. “This is the National Football League, men. It doesn’t stop for myself or any other player.”
Johnson has attended virtually all of the team’s voluntary work this offseason. Even when he wasn’t working on the field last week, he still was present. Johnson also appeared at the team’s “media day” Monday, taking part in the various photo shoots and video shoots for pieces the team will use during the season.
“Dave has been here,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “He’s been here pretty much the entire offseason. He wasn’t here today, but I’m not worried about David at all. He’s a tremendous player. Whenever he gets back here I know he’ll be in shape and he’ll be ready to roll.”
Discussions about a new deal have been reportedly ongoing.
Johnson, a third-round pick in 2015, had a monster season in 2016, gaining more than 1,200 yards rushing and another 800 receiving before suffering a serious knee injury in the season finale. Johnson returned to health to start 2017, but suffered a broken wrist in the regular-season opener and missed the remainder of the season.
The Cardinals have T.J. Logan, D.J. Foster and rookie Chase Edmonds behind Johnson at running back, and those are the ones getting the work with Johnson gone.
“If I can get some reps with the ‘ones’ occasionally just to get the game to slow down for me, I’m going to take it,” Edmonds said. “I’m going to need it. But obviously when that (Johnson) situation gets handled, whatever is going on, it will all go back to normal and I’ll just have to chop wood.”