David Johnson sets sights on 1,000 yards receiving, 1,000 rushing
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Entering his third NFL season, David Johnson believes he can accomplish something only two players have done in the game’s history.
Rush for 1,000 yards and catch 1,000 yards worth of passes in one season.
“Most definitely a realistic, for-sure goal,” he said, “just because I was so close last year and I feel like I have a lot more to improve.”
Johnson is mentioned twice on last season’s All-Pro team — first team in the new “flex” position, second team at running back.
He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage at 2,118 — 1,239 yards rushing, 879 yards receiving. The numbers undoubtedly would have grown had he not injured a knee early in the season finale against the Rams in Los Angeles.
Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk are the only NFL players to crack the 1,000-1,000 mark in a single season.
“I would have had it last year if I didn’t mess up on those routes,” Johnson said. “I missed so many routes last year. I probably would have had a thousand, like B.A. (coach Bruce Arians) said, in midseason. I feel like it’s a very reachable goal.”
Johnson, the Clinton native and University of Northern Iowa alum, said the only pressure he will feel to reach that 1,000-1,000 goal is from within, and from his coach.
“B.A. definitely puts more pressure on me than any outside person could,” Johnson said. “I feel like it’s more me trying to put pressure on myself and trying to make B.A. happy.”
Expect Arians to take full advantage of the elusive 6-foot-1 back. Sometimes he will line up in the backfield, other times somewhere at receiver.
Last season he became the first player to top 100 yards from scrimmage in the first 15 games of a season and probably would have had a 16th had he not been hurt in the final game.
Johnson has scored 33 touchdowns in his 32 NFL games.
No wonder he is usually the No. 1 pick in fantasy football drafts.
At 223 pounds, he came to training camp a bit lighter than he did the previous year.
“I do feel a lot more energetic,” he said. “I feel like I’m in better shape.”
Johnson credits yoga with his wife for stretching muscles to make him prepare for the competition.
“I think it’s going to help a tremendous amount in longevity with fatiguing, muscles getting tight,” he said. “I won’t have to worry about that, legs feeling heavy towards the end.”
Arians is pleased with the progress he’s seen from Johnson.
“He did a good job in the (pass blocking) drill,” the coach said. “He knows the assignments. He turned a few guys loose last year. He’s done a much better job of recognizing blitzes and seeing where they’re going to blitz. Ball security’s been good, knock on wood.”
Quarterback Carson Palmer said Johnson justifiably has more confidence.
“You don’t know you can do it until you do it and he did it,” Palmer said, “and now you continue to look to the future and read and hear about things people are saying about you. I think his confidence is going through the roof because he’s done it and now he wants to do more.”
But Johnson’s approach to practice hasn’t changed.
“He doesn’t all of a sudden have an ego, at all,” Palmer said. “He’s very even-keeled.”
And he keeps talking about wanting to learn.
“There’s bigger names than I am,” Johnson said, “so I’m coming in ready to learn, ready to get going.”