TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - David Johnson was back in the Arizona Cardinals locker room on Wednesday, all smiles as usual as he met with reporters for the first time since he dislocated his left wrist in the season opener in Detroit.
The star running back has undergone surgery and says there’s no timetable for his return, although similar injuries have sidelined players for eight to 12 weeks.
“It’s definitely been a rough couple of weeks,” he said, “but I had a lot of support from my family and friends who connect with me. It’s my first major injury so it’s been a whirlwind for sure.”
Johnson was counted on to be a major part of the Arizona offense after leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season. He set a goal of 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving, something only Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk had accomplished in NFL history.
That goal evaporated when he made a tough catch near the Detroit goal line and was hit by three defenders from all sides. A helmet slammed into his wrist.
“After watching the film, I think it was a helmet from the safety,” Johnson said. “Actually I thought it was a sprain. I didn’t really feel it because that same play I got the wind knocked out of me. So I really was focusing more on trying to catch my breath and I didn’t really feel the wrist. And when I did feel it, it felt more like a sprain and be able to tape it up more and be able to play more.”
But the next time he touched the ball, he fumbled it away at the Cardinals’ 10-yard line.
“I actually didn’t feel the football as much,” he said. “It didn’t feel like I was holding the football as strong as I normally do. I think that’s when I realized something’s not right.”
He’s had a couple of weeks to accept his predicament, sort of. Missing Monday night’s opener against the Dallas Cowboys will be difficult.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “I’m going to be out there trying to coach, trying to help out the other guys, but it’s going to be a tough time.”
What bothers Johnson the most is the little things that used to be so easy at home.
“Tying your shoe, taking a shower, tedious things that you do every day become difficult,” he said. “Really the toughest thing right now is hanging out with my son. I can’t really carry him. I get a little nervous. He’s starting to get a little more squirmy. It’s hard to carry him. I don’t. And my wife doesn’t really trust me carrying him either.”
He’s heard from other running backs, mentioning Ty Lockett, Amir Abdulla, Todd Gurley and Jay Ajayi.
“They just say, ‘Keep your head up and keep pushing through,’” Johnson said. “We all face adversity. Just get through it.”
Johnson, in his third NFL season, was on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s NFL preview edition. With his versatility - he led the NFL last season with 20 touchdowns - he was the consensus No. 1 pick in so many fantasy drafts. Letting down his fantasy owners is one thing he’s not concerned about.
“Fantasy is the last thing on my mind right now,” he said.
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