After breaking out last week, Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is firmly on the radar as a player capable of obliterating opposing defences.
The rookie has grabbed the starting job following injuries to fellow backs Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson and literally ran with it, averaging 126 yards on the ground in the past three games.
Johnson truly showed his worth in his latest performance though, rushing for 187 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-17 rout against Philadelphia.
From third-stringer to workhorse, Johnson has vaulted to become a vital cog in Arizona’s dangerous attack.
“He’s worked hard his whole life,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.
“He had jobs at Northern Iowa cleaning latrines and working in the cafeteria. “This is a very mature young man who’s paid his dues.
"He’s not like a guy who’s been given everything, highly recruited and they have a sense of entitlement. You have to be very aware of those guys.”
Johnson gets an appetising matchup with a Green Bay Packers’ defence ranking 26th in the NFL in yards allowed per rush at 4.45 and having surrendered 100- plus yards in four straight games.
Arizona will face a challenge on the other side of the ball, however, with their first game without Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu coming against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The third-year player, who has five interceptions this year, tore his ACL last week and is out for the season, putting even more of a burden on cornerback Patrick Peterson.
“If there was a spot we had to lose a guy, it was probably the one spot we were deep at,” Arians said.
“Nobody has played better in the league than Patrick. Nobody even throws at him. Whoever he gets is canceled out, it’s about winning in December,” McCarthy said.
“There’s a reason why these kind of games usually show up on your schedule this time of year.
“But this is about the playoffs. We’re in the playoffs now. Everybody understands what we need to do to first, win the division, and then hopefully get the highest seed (possible)."
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