TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury benched running back David Johnson for the rest of Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after his fumble late in the third quarter, opting to go with running back Kenyan Drake for the remainder of the game.
“We just felt like with Drake, needed to get something going and kept him rolling,” Kingsbury said. “The last couple weeks, practice, games [he] has brought a little pop to the run game, the pass game and we felt like he was the guy to try and close the game out with.”
Kingsbury’s call to bench Johnson was his decision and was not affected by Johnson’s recent rash of injuries.
Kingsbury didn’t commit to how his benching of Johnson will impact Johnson directly in coming games.
“We’ll put the best guys out there each week that we feel like give us the best chance to win and that can change week in and week out,” Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury said he’ll figure out the best role for both Johnson and Drake “over the next few weeks” and then “run with it.” Since trading for Drake on Oct. 28, it’s been challenging for Kingsbury to figure out the “best possible” rotation and “who does what best.”
Johnson has rushed for 302 yards and two touchdowns on 82 carries.
Asked why Johnson doesn’t appear to be as explosive out of the backfield as he’s been in the past, Kingsbury said Johnson “obviously” has been hampered by the back and ankle injuries he’s been dealing with this season, but added that Johnson is “still working through those and getting a feel for it.”
Last Wednesday, Kingsbury said he wanted to see Johnson make full-speed cuts and have a high comfort level with his ankle. He added that “hopefully, we see what we want this week.” Johnson, who declared himself “100 percent” healthy last week, appeared to have done that as he started Sunday’s game in Tampa.
However, Johnson had just six touches — his season-low for a full game played — and finished with two rushing yards on five carries and one catch for eight yards.
Kingsbury credited the Bucs’ run defense when asked whether Johnson is running tentatively and not hitting holes fast enough.
“You know, that’s tough to say,” Kingsbury said. “I think this week, that was a very good run defense and they had a lot to do with some of the lack of production in the run game.”
Chase Edmonds, who suffered a hamstring injury against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8 that’s forced him to miss the last two games, is still an unknown for this week. Kingsbury said he wasn’t sure about Edmonds’ status for Sunday against San Francisco but noted, “I would expect him hopefully in the near future.”