BY: ED COLE
TEMPE, Ariz. – The Arizona Cardinals were dealt a serious blow both on Sunday and on Tuesday in regards to running back Chris Johnson. On Sunday, Johnson left the game with the 49ers in the third quarter with a left knee injury.
On Tuesday, the team announced that they’d be putting Johnson on the injured reserve/designated for return list with that knee/leg injury.
Arizona made a corresponding move, elevating running back Kerwynn Williams from the practice squad.
The team made a few more moves in addition to these, signing cornerback Corey White, releasing cornerback Robert Nelson, Jr., signing safety D.J. Swearinger to the practice squad and releasing tight end Brandon Bostick from the practice squad.
Each NFL team is allowed to designate one player to be placed on the injured reserve/designated for return list. Johnson will be able to come back and practice after six weeks, providing he’s healed up enough to practice. Johnson would then be eligible to play in a game after eight weeks.
Johnson has been a pleasant surprise, and a much needed addition to Arizona’s running game, which was pretty ineffective last season. In 2014, the Cardinals were 31st in the league in rushing yards per game at 81.8, and dead last in the NFL in yards per rush at 3.29. This season, Arizona’s run game is ranked 12th in the NFL with it averaging 115.2 yards rushing per game, and their yards per rush average is 14th at 4.10.
In Johnson, the Cardinals will lose the league’s fourth-leading rusher. Johnson came into this week with 814 yards rushing on 196 carries (4.15 yard avg.) and three touchdowns.
Johnson has four 100+ yard rushing games for Arizona this season, becoming the first Cardinals player since current running backs coach Stump Mitchell (4, 1985) to rush for 100+ yards in at least four games in a season.
With Johnson gone, and running back Andre Ellington’s status up in the air with his left foot injury, the running back group will feature rookie David Johnson, Stepfan Taylor and Williams, who’s used to being elevated from the practice squad this season. He was brought up prior to Arizona’s Week 2 game in Chicago.
Williams played in five regular season games last season for the Cardinals after being brought up from the practice squad on December 5. He had 246 rushing yards on 53 carries (4.6 yard avg.). Williams originally came into the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts as a seventh-round selection (230th overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft out of Utah State.
White (6-1, 210) played in seven games (one start) with the Dallas Cowboys this season, and had four tackles, and three passes defensed before he was released on November 17. White spent his first three years in the league with the New Orleans Saints after being drafted in the fifth round (162nd overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Samford. White played in 41 games (19 starts) with the Saints, and had 128 tackles (104 solo), four interceptions, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 19 passes defensed and one sack.
White will wear jersey # 27, and Williams will wear jersey # 33.
Swearinger (5-10, 208) was a second-round pick (57th overall) of the Houston Texans in the 2013 NFL Draft out of South Carolina. Swearinger played in all 32 games (22 starts) from 2013-14 with the Texans. He was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in May, and he played in seven games with the Buccaneers this season. In those seven games, Swearinger had 11 tackles and a fumble recovery before he was released on November 17. For his career, Swearinger has 109 tackles, three interceptions, 10 passes defensed, one sack, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 39 games.