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Steve Keim: David Johnson-Kenyan Drake Backfield Gives Options

The Cardinals are expected to have David Johnson and Kenyan Drake available together for the first time this weekend against the Buccaneers, something general manager Steve Keim is looking forward to see -- but how the two are deployed, Keim said it doesn't matter.

"I just want to win, and I know Kliff feels the same way," Keim said Friday during his appearance on the "Doug and Wolf" show on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station. "Kliff (Kingsbury) is a creative guy and I know he'll put those guys in position to succeed."

Johnson has missed the last two games and all but three snaps of a third. Keim noted the mismatches Johnson can create in the passing game as one of the big advantages he can provide.

"To be able to have him and the addition of Kenyan Drake, the more weapons you can have, it obviously helps," Keim said.

And what about battling for snaps, or even when Chase Edmonds is able to return from his hamstring injury? The running back room will be crowded, and while it seems inevitable that there are times when Kingsbury will use multiple backs on certain plays, there will be only so many snaps to go around. Keim said that could be a good thing for the Cards.

"The more competition the better," he said. "You can't have enough good players. It gives Kliff a lot of options."

-- Keim said he wasn't surprised that Bruce Arians got back into coaching after retiring from the Cardinals. But at the time, when Arians told Keim in 2017 he'd be stepping down, "I could see in his face when we talked that he was just tired and it was time." The two have remained close after being so tight while Arians was in Arizona.

But coaching "is in his blood," Keim added. "It's what he does. A lot of times we are creatures of habit. He's a football coach and he's a damn good football coach."

-- Keim said he appreciated Patrick Peterson blaming the 49ers loss on himself but "it's certainly not all on him." With Peterson missing so much time from his suspension, Keim said he does think that has played a factor, and not just because of conditioning but also the mental mindset that goes into each week and each game. Facing up against a good Bucs passing game -- and likely frequent matchups with star receiver Mike Evans - will tell a lot.

"(Patrick) is the kind of guy who I think can rise to the occasion," Keim said. "He's got a big test this week."

-- Because of the injuries at running back, quarterback Kyler Murray actually leads the Cardinals in rushing with 313 yards (13 more than Johnson) and has averaged 5.6 yards a carry. Keim was asked if he'd like to see Murray run more often.

"That's a good question," Keim said. "The other question is, do I want to see him hit, and I don't want to see him hit," Keim said "I want to make sure we protect him." However, Keim added, Murray's threat of running "creates problems for defenses." Finding a happy medium is a key.

-- Keim explained that when he signed Justin Pugh as a free agent, one of Pugh's concerns in finding a new team was going to a place that would keep him at the same position. Now Pugh likely will have to play right tackle instead of left guard for a second straight week because of injuries.

"The one thing about Justin, he's not a selfish player," Keim said, adding that he felt bad for Pugh having to move.

-- Keim was asked about his feelings at being 3-5-1 going into Week 10, after the Cards were 2-6 at the same time last season. "Not good enough, but at the same time, I feel we are making progress," Keim said. It's a results-based business, so record matters, Keim said. Still, "we are on the right track."

Arizona Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim during an NFL regular season football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz. The Seahawks won, 27-10. (Ric Tapia via AP)

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