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Steve Keim: David Johnson Just One Of Many Players Being Evaluated

GM Steve Keim had a conversation with David Johnson Thursday after the running back was named the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year, letting Johnson know how he appreciated Johnson's work in the community. On the field, Keim said Friday on the "Doug and Wolf" show on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station, "I thought last week he bounced back and played pretty well against the Steelers."

"I thought he started to look like the old David, and I guess the next couple of weeks we want to see him continue to fight and compete," Keim added. "That's the way he's shown up every day in practice and I don't expect anything to change there."

As for the offseason -- and with Johnson carrying a contract with enough guaranteed money that it would seem like that Johnson will remain in Arizona -- Keim wasn't saying one way or the other when it came to Johnson's future with the Cardinals.

"Those are the kind of conversations that will certainly be held internally," Keim said. "I'm not going to have them on the radio. I will say this: We'll take a deep dive into this roster and take a look at every guy. Not only their contract situation but as I said earlier, identifying the core of players moving forward and making sure we can build around them."

Keim also said Johnson's recent tweet didn't faze him, since he didn't see it.

-- Keim echoed the sentiments of Kliff Kingsbury in saying he'd like to see wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald return for a 17th season in 2020.

"He's a pillar in the community and what he means to this organization, you can't even put it into words," Keim said. "He's still playing at a high level. It's amazing what he continues to do on the field, what he does on the practice field, the example he shows for young players, and we certainly would love to have him back."

-- When the schedule came out and the Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray, the Brows-Cards matchup, with Murray and Baker Mayfield, Keim said you could understand why it would be a cool matchup and, after Keim spent time with Mayfield pre-draft in 2018 and with Murray, "there is no doubt each of these guys want to win this game."

Keim also sees similarities between the two QBs.

"They are both playmakers and they both overcame some physical limitations in terms of height and length and those sorts of things," he said. "They are both scrappy as can be, they both have infectious personalities and they can both light up a stadium. I would expect no less this Sunday."

-- Keim said he felt the defense did an OK job stopping the run last week. But he remains concerned with both the tackling consistency and the pass defense.

"The amount of leaky yards after contact, that bothers me," Keim said. "And then, challenging routes and knocking balls down. Whether it is PBUs or interceptions, make a play on the ball. We've got to get better in that area. It starts with the rush up front and ends with making plays on balls, using your anticipation, reading routes, using your eyes and challenging players."

-- The Browns have a coaching staff littered with guys who used to coach or play for the Cardinals, including head coach Freddie Kitchens, a long-time Cards assistant. The defensive coordinator, of course, is Steve Wilks, who was the Cardinals' head coach for 2018 before he was fired and replaced by Kliff Kingsbury.

"Steve Wilks is a good man," Keim said. "I had a lot of respect for him, enjoyed his time here in terms of our relationship, and wish him and his family the best. He's a very good man."

GM Steve Keim before a game against Falcons 2019 AP photo

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