David Johnson had plenty to be motivated about as a 23-year-old during the 2015 NFL Draft.
Now an Arizona Cardinals running back, the Northern Iowa product wasn’t selected until the third round, and even so, a documentary about the Cardinals showed that the team originally wanted Ameer Abdullah, who wound up with the Detriot Lions. Arizona took Johnson instead.
That worked out well.
Johnson started five games his rookie year and played in all 16, amassing 1,038 yards from scrimmage on 161 touches. The now-27-year-old had 1,368 yards last year as the Cardinals woefully underperformed on offense and finished 3-13. Johnson’s season wasn’t bad, but not up to his standards.
“Not angry, really just determined,” Johnson told Doug & Wolf about the upcoming season on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I would say determined and more motivated than ever, than I’ve ever been in my life throughout everything. Even before, when I wasn’t even getting looked at coming out of college, I think I’m even more determined and motivated to prove people wrong than that time.”
If motivation fueled his massive first two years in the NFL, then opposing defenses should be wary Johnson having more determination than ever.
Despite ranking in the top 20 among all NFL players in yards from scrimmage last season, it’s not enough. Johnson wants to get back to being the player who had a league-leading 2,118 yards in 2016, his All-Pro season.
“Man, I’m so amped, just because it’s been a rough couple years and I need to get back to the old me,” Johnson said, referring to a lost 2017 season in which he missed all but one game due to injury. “I’m really pumped, really excited to get back to 2016 and I just want to make sure and let everyone know that I’m not falling off. I haven’t gone anywhere, and I’m coming back with a vengeance.
“I just can’t wait for the season to start. Time has been flying, and it’s not coming fast enough.”
NEW FACES, NEW OFFENSE
The new Cardinals offense features new offensive linemen, freshly-drafted receivers, a new tight end and more. But most importantly is the addition of head coach Kliff Kingsbury and his staff, installing a new offense that looks to get the most out of the team’s top weapons in Johnson and new quarterback Kyler Murray.
Johnson was asked whether he believed the new offense, of what he’s seen so far, will make the most out of his skillset.
“I definitely do,” Johnson said. “Just from doing the plays throughout OTAs and going through the offensive scheme, I definitely feel like it portrays my skillset really well.
“It is simpler, and I think that’s going to help us run faster and move faster and not have to think so much on the field. Especially, I think it fits our skillsets, our players, our offensive players, our receivers, our tight ends, running backs obviously, and our quarterbacks; I think it fits our players a little bit better. And I think we’ll be able to move the ball a lot better than last year.”