The Arizona Cardinals hoped for the best with Andre Ellington, but now that the oft-injured runner won’t be available for a couple weeks, the team should turn to rookie David Johnson.
ESPN’s Josina Anderson confirmed the suspicion that Arizona’s starting back will be sidelined due to a PCL (knee) sprain.
Source: Cardinals RB Andre Ellington has a Grade 1 PCL Sprain. Estimated return to play 2 to 3 weeks.
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) September 14, 2015
That leaves a pair of running backs with the surname Johnson vying for a starting spot. David and Chris, formerly known as “CJ2K” or perhaps more befitting of his recent performance, “CJ0K.”
Arizona initally took some flack for signing the veteran, but they deserve credit for anticipating what many expected to happen at some point during the 2015 campaign. However, that doesn’t mean Chris—who is the likely replacement—is the right choice.
Supporters of David will be quick to point out his 55-yard touchdown in the Cardinals 31-19 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. But the rookie’s game-sealing score in his NFL debut more than a big play at a timely moment; it showcased one of the traits that make him worthy of temporarily starting.
In addition to the speed David displayed on the touchdown, he’s also a more physical runner than Chris at this point. Plus, the Northern Iowa product tallied at least 32 receptions in each of his four collegiate seasons. David is at worst the clear-cut third-down back, but he’s simply a better overall option than Chris.
Unfortunately, Arizona coach Bruce Arians seems reluctant to call upon the rookie. After Ellington exited the contest during the fourth quarter, Arians gave Chris seven carries and David none.
Arians might feel more comfortable with Chris handling the majority of reps in the backfield, but David is the Cardinals’ best choice to keep their high-powered offense operating at a high level.