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, Ariz. (AP) — Even though he says he’s not paying that much attention to it, David Johnson says he’s “very encouraged” about ongoing contract talks between his agent and the Arizona Cardinals.
“They said they’re going to continue to talk and hopefully we can get a deal done soon,” he said.
The standout running back held out during the team’s three-day minicamp but has been a full participant in training camp, and had a pair of impressive runs to start Saturday night’s preseason 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I’m letting my agent handle it,” he said. “I really want to focus on football because I don’t want to hinder my play on the field.”
Johnson said he believes the Cardinals and the team’s fan base know how good he is, but he believes others around the NFL may have forgotten. He’s out to remind them and prove he’s worth a big contract.
An All-Pro selection in 2016, when he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns, Johnson fractured his left wrist in the 2017 season opener and hadn’t played since — until those two carries against the Chargers.
The injury is what is holding up a contract, he believes.
“I didn’t play last year,” Johnson said. “I was hoping that my production from my second year and what I did get in the first year would help out, but the NFL is what have you done for me lately. So hopefully I can prove it.”
Johnson, a third-round draft pick out of Northern Iowa in 2015, is set to make $1.9 million in this the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. That’s far, far below what other big-time running backs will earn.
Johnson said he was “a little anxious but not rusty” when he made his return to the game.
In each of his two carries Chuck Foreman Jersey
, the big, fast back gained 14 yards behind a revamped offensive line that cleared the way for him.
“The biggest thing I was pumped up about is how easy it was for me to get through the holes,” Johnson said. “They were gaping holes. The guys up front blocked very well for me.”
New coach Steve Wilks wants an offense that emphasizes power running and that’s what he got from the first unit in its only series against LA, which culminated with a 2-yard TD run by Johnson’s hard-running backup, rookie Chase Edmonds.
New quarterback Sam Bradford, who completed his only pass for 6 yards, said the Cardinals established just what they wanted to in that opening series.
“We’ve talked all preseason, really all camp, about coming out and establishing our physicality in being able to run the football,” Bradford said after practice Tuesday. “For us to be able to come out and do what we did I think is extremely encouraging just because it’s something that has been an emphasis and something that has been talked about so much.”
What the Cardinals didn’t see is Johnson as a receiver. He caught 80 passes for 879 yards two seasons ago (along with 1,239 yards rushing in 293 attempts).
“I want to be on the field as much as possible,” Johnson said, “third downs have me split out at receiver. Not just third downs, but any play whenever we think I have an advantage over the defender Ronde Barber Jersey
, hopefully I can be split out or coming out of the backfield as a receiver.”
Bradford marveled at how Johnson has run routes as a receiver in practice.
“I mean, he’s pretty impressive,” Bradford said. “Today at practice, just watching him run routes, I think he might be one of our best route runners, regardless of position. He’s just so smooth. He’s so versatile as a running back that there are so many different things you can do with him.
“Last week, watching him take the first two carries for 14 yards, that’s what he’s best at. We’ve just got to find ways to give him opportunities to make plays like that.”
The Cardinals went through their final outdoor practice Tuesday. They will break Arizona’s shortest training camp in recent memory with a workout Wednesday inside University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Cardinals are at New Orleans in their second preseason game on Friday night and are to return to work out Sunday at the team’s practice facility some 40 miles to the east in Tempe.
Notes: Arizona signed wide receiver Austin Wolf, an undrafted rookie free agent from Akron, and released wide receiver Richard Ross.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) When linebacker Danny Trevathan returned to practice Monday after recovering from a pulled hamstring, it left the Chicago Bears missing only one inside linebacker – first-round draft pick Roquan Smith.
When Smith will join the team is hard to say.
After the New York Jets reached a contract agreement Monday with quarterback Sam Darnold, Smith became the lone unsigned pick from the 2018 draft class.
”We will continue to keep trying to do our best to make this thing happen,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said after Saturday’s practice. ”At the same time Devin McCourty Jersey
, what we need to do is we need to focus on who’s here right now, right? That’s the realism of it all.”
Cash is not the problem – at least in terms of how much Smith is to be paid. That amount is slotted for the eighth pick of the draft.
The stumbling block is whether the Bears should be allowed to take back guaranteed bonus money in the future from Smith if he is ever suspended for disciplinary reasons, including a violation of the league’s new rule preventing players from leading with their helmets.
”Well, for both sides, it’s more of a language deal, a language-type deal,” Nagy said.
Asked specifically if the issue is the helmet rule, Nagy said: ”That’s part of the issue with it. As far as the details, I’m not going to get into all that right now. That wouldn’t be fair to either party, but there’s some of that to it.”
The new rule stipulates a player will be penalized for lowering his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet. The player will be ejected and could be subject to suspension if he is determined to have lowered his helmet to ”establish a linear body posture.”
The Bears had a somewhat similar situation last year with Trevathan when he was suspended for an illegal hit on Packers wide receiver Davante Adams.
In that instance, Chicago management never sought to reclaim any bonus money given to Trevathan.
”They were on my side about the hit against Green Bay,” Trevathan said.
As a result, Trevathan remained optimistic his new teammate will soon be in camp.
”So I’m sure they’ll work it out,” Trevathan said. ”It’s just details within a contract. We want him here.”
Trevathan said he has been in contact with Smith during the holdout.
”I’ve been talking to him Kareem Hunt Jersey
, just making sure as a person he was all right, he’s not fading away from the game that he loves,” Trevathan said. ”I just make sure that he’s all right. I’ve been through some stuff.
”I’m pretty sure he wants to take care of himself and he wants to get back in. I’m sure he’s missing just as much as we are.”
Smith was fully involved in off-season work with the Bears, so Trevathan doubts his teammate will have any trouble catching up after the holdout ends.
Chicago has an extra preseason game this season, so Smith’s holdout has come at a time when the Bears normally wouldn’t have been in training camp. They open preseason Thursday night in Canton, Ohio, against the Baltimore Ravens in the Hall of Fame Game.
The Bears have traditionally been among the first teams to get all their draft picks signed. In one 10-year stretch, they were the first team to sign all their picks nine times.
They haven’t had a holdout of note since Cedric Benson missed 36 days in 2005.
Nick Kwiatkoski and John Timu have taken most of the snaps at inside linebacker during training camp with the first team. Trevathan is practicing on a limited basis until he’s 100 percent healthy.
Kwiatkoski has earned Nagy’s respect in scrimmages. A third-year player, Kwiatkoski had been a reserve but played extensively each of his first two years because of injuries and suspensions to Trevathan and former Bear Jerrell Freeman.
”I love his mentality,” Nagy said of Kwiatkoski. ”He didn’t blink when we drafted Roquan. He stepped right on in there and put the horse blinders on and went after it.”
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