Arizona Cardinals boast impressive group of running backs

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 1: Running back Chris Johnson
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 1: Running back Chris Johnson /

Led by an impressive young star, the Arizona Cardinals have plenty of solid options available at the running back position

Just two years ago the Arizona Cardinals were starving for a running game. The passing attack was just fine, but the rushing attack in head coach Bruce Arians’ offense left alot to be desired.

Help arrived in a big way during the third round of the 2015 Draft, although the Cardinals’ brass probably did not know it at the time. After missing out on their first choice at running back, Ameer Abdullah, Arizona turned to little-known David Johnson. The Detroit Lions had foiled management’s plan to select Abdullah, forcing them to put their eggs into Johnson’s basket.

Not knowing what they had with the Northern Iowa product, the Cards looked to a veteran free agent for insurance. Chris Johnson, the former Tennessee Titans’ star, was brought aboard during the summer. Also in the mix for the 2015 campaign were two others, Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor, a pair of backs drafted two years earlier.

Three of those four (both Johnsons and Ellington) still remain today. David Johnson is arguably the best running back in football. He tallied monster numbers last season,1,239 yards on the ground, 879 through the air and 20 total touchdowns.

Chris Johnson got off to a rousing start for the squad in 2015 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. His 814 rushing yards had him ranked among the league’s leaders after 11 games that year. He appeared in four contests in 2016 before being placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. “CJ2K” signed his third one-year contract with the franchise just last week.

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The Cardinals experimented with Ellington at wide receiver during this offseason’s OTAs. The audition failed, and he has rejoined the running backs’ room. At 28-years old, Ellington remains a viable option out of the backfield with both his speed and his pass-catching ability.

Another Arizona runner, Kerwynn Williams, has performed well when his number has been called. He appeared to be the number-one backup earlier this offseason, but with Chris Johnson back in the fold, that may no longer be the case.

Other backs currently in camp include this year’s sixth-round draft pick T.J. Logan, who is slated to return kickoffs during the upcoming season.  A pair of undrafted free agents, Elijhaa Penny and James Summers round out the depth chart.

Running back-needy teams will be looking at the waiver wire when the Cards start making cuts. Perhaps general manager Steve Keim will be able to fetch a draft pick for one of the ball-carriers. One thing’s for certain, the Cardinals are more than set in the backfield for the upcoming campaign.