Chris Johnson’s potential IR return

Posted by Darren Urban on October 26, 2016 – 4:29 pm

Both running back Chris Johnson and safety Tyvon Branch went on injured reserve on Oct. 4, and a potential return date — for only one of them — is the Dec. 4 game against the Redskins. For his part, Johnson said he is “ahead of schedule” in his rehab from a groin injury (Branch suffered the same injury) and is optimistic about his availability to practice two weeks before that.

The new rule this season declares that while one player can return from injured reserve (it’s always been just one), teams do not have to declare which one is coming back. So both Johnson and Branch are in play. (In contrast, when the Cardinals put Johnson on IR last year with his knee injury, they said it was IR-to-return.) If chosen to return, players can return to practice after six weeks on the sideline, and play eight weeks later.

At the time Johnson and Branch went on the list, coach Bruce Arians said the decision on which one would return — and those two are the only real options on IR right now to come back — would not only be based on rate of recovery but also positional need.

As of now, running back actually would seem to be a greater need, with the number of touches starter David Johnson is receiving along with the depth in the secondary. While Tyrann Mathieu is still rounding into form, he isn’t leaving the lineup, and the other two safeties — Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger — are playing well. If the Cardinals can maneuver through the next four games (the bye is mixed in there), bringing Johnson back for a playoff push over the final five games makes sense.



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22 Responses to “Chris Johnson’s potential IR return”

  1. By John The Draft Guy on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    Absolutely agree. This is no debate (provided no other injuries).

    Jefferson and Swearinger are holding it down. Big hits and solid coverage. Wish we would just resign them both right now. With Badger in the slot, and Simon able to come in and help, Branch is on the bench if he returns.

    Meanwhile, the cards must continue to ride DJ. To keep defenses off of Palmer, he has to be the man. So, come December, he could use some help/relief, whether we are in a playoff push or not.

    CJ , clearly makes sense to bring back this year. It also makes sense to bring him back in 2017 if he is willing.

  2. By clssylssy on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    Really hope to get CJ back to not only give David some relief but also add another dimension to our run game. I fear that if we keep pounding David, odds are that he could also be injured and lost for the most important part of the season. Chris is fearless and plays like a Tasmanian devil plus BA talked about a scheme using both Johnsons as a dual threat–an attack to make opponents heads explode! It really sucks that we have so many good players on IR and can only get one back but, our run game is our mean and potatoes and CJ is the guy we need. Glad to hear he’s progressing ahead of schedule so he’ll be rested and fit to go as David begins to tire.

  3. By shooter28 on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    Arizona has 3 Elite to Excellent Safeties in Elite All-Pro FS/CB Tyrann Mathieu who is now rounding back into top form and is playing at an Elite Level and it will only get better each week from here on out. Then at Strong Safety Arizona has 6ft/220pd Tony Jefferson who Pro Football Focus ranks as the 3rd best Safety in the NFL playing at an Elite level both in pass coverage n stopping the run . Then their is 5″11/215pd viciously hard hitting top 15 ranked (of 80+ ranked) FS/SS DJ Swearinger who is playing out of his mind right now & the former 2nd round pick is proving to be a huge pickup…

    At the same time though you have to ask yourself which player will help more because CJ2K seems to be falling apart now north of 30 years old & AZ has solid depth behind David Johnson at RB while a FS/CB like Tyvon Branch with Elite 4.26 speed at 6″2/215pds give AZ elite size/speed/length at the Safety position to rotate in and out & is insurance incase something happens to Mathieu but he will be fine. I think the question might come down to who can help more especially in the playoffs n the answer might be the younger more athletic Tyvon Branch which will solidify that Elite 3rd ranked NFL Pass Defense.

  4. By Scott H on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Would LOVE to see CJ be able to get back on the field this season. Obviously, I hope it WILL be for a push to the playoffs. Unfortunately, we have made that road a difficult one for ourselves. But if we’re still in play, getting CJ back is huge.

    Hey, he wanted to be here so he could help this team take care of un-finished business. He didn’t get that chance last year. Let’s give it to him this year!

    In the meantime, I think we need to be getting Ellington in there a bit more. He is nowhere near the player DJ is but he is certainly good enough, has always been able to make plays for us. DJ cannot continue to get the weekly workload he has been getting. IF he doesn’t start to wear down, it still gives too many opportunities for injury.

  5. By Big Ken on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Darren, will the Cardinals make any changes with the trade deadline approaching?

  6. By Darren Urban on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Big Ken —

    RE: Trade

    If you are asking if they are going to make any trades, I do not anticipate it. But never say never.

  7. By Scott H on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    On another topic, I am beyond super-psyched for Pat Tillman’s A Football Life segment on Friday night. With Warner, Arians, and now Tillman….some of our guys have definitely provided some GREAT installments in that series in recent years.

  8. By shane on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    they need too bring Penny up from the PS .. if Az wants too turn into a more physical running team they cant just keep wearing down DJ & Ellington is not the type of RB too relive DJ they need a physical big back just like DJ too come in and keep pounding the other teams D . Penny is 6-2 250 & looks too punish people idk how hes still on the PS imagine him and DJ both getting touches in a game! that would be a nightmare for any D.

  9. By Scott H on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Meanwhile, I hear that Smoky is back at practice and expects to have his activity increased with passing days. VERY happy to hear. Sounds like Floyd is more of an outside chance for Sunday but we NEED one of them back on the field. I like how Nelson has played the last two games but I wonder how he fares in the role of full-time player. He’s not very big anywhere. I wonder if being in the role of WR 2 and taking more hits is something he is really up for.

    Between Smoky, Floyd, and / or Nelson, I just want SOMEBODY to bring back our big plays. I mean, I’ve been banging the drum for playing smaller and more ball control, but….that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to see those big plays. Trust me – I DO!!!

    Hoping to see Fells back soon as well but I think it would be a crime for us to not be looking Momah’s way more often going forward. That man can get open and make some plays. He doesn’t need to become Antonio Gates over night, but…he also can’t not catch another pass for the next 3-4 games, ya know?

  10. By Redwing on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    I’d be very surprised to see the Cardinals beat Carolina this Sunday. Although, I’m been faithful, and crushed, pissed!, and euphoric, with the Cards throughout the decades, I can sense, feel, the situation their headed towards… A team that is proud with too much to prove, especially, to themselves, let alone to their frustrated fandom. They’re very talented, yet their record suggest otherwise, so they’re pissed and most likely to explode, hopefully not at the Cardinals expense.

    Moreover, I believe, the Panthers are dealing with the karma that they created from last year, celebrating as if the party would never end, but it always does….

    Maybe the feeling I have is just an illusion and is not accurate, the old feelings of Cardinal’s past that die hard, maybe.

    Surely, love to see the guys overcome all my concerning obstacles and invalidate my feelings, please!

  11. By creditcard on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Darren or somebody out there in this posting land:

    Somebody please tell me the logic behind releasing Marquis Christian so that the Cards could have two active punters, and one of those punters has been consistently at the bottom of punting efficiency.

    Seems like at best a goofy decision.

    Doing a logical decision on Christian, would make returning Chris Johnson literally a no brainier.

    Somebody connect the dots for me. on what appears to be a massive bozo move.

  12. By Darren Urban on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    credit —

    RE: Christian

    I’m not sure the two decisions were linked.

  13. By clssylssy on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    While our receiving game is on the decline, our run game is going to be our salvation on offense and bringing Penney up now would be the right time. Then, bring Chris back in December(who David credits a lot with his success in being patient and finding holes), and we not only have a triple threat but an added dimension and on-field teacher/mentor for Penny as well. Move Ellington to being a return man/special teams; he may have the speed to get around and create turnovers.
    Our game has changed as was bound to happen with Palmer, who is still smart and better than many QBs out there, but we need to play to our strengths. Right now our strength is our defense (as with, most top teams) but our offense needs to be able to put points up and that means not running David into the ground before Chris can get back so our offense can share the load. Having another big body and physical player like Penney learning the other part of the job (blocking) from guys like Fitz and CJ, at this stage of the game would be an added bonus this year and next.

  14. By John the Draft Guy on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    Credit card,

    It was obvious the cards didn’t think as highly about Christian than some card fans.

    Releasing him to keep 2 punters, only to release one later was truly one of the worst moves of the year. I mean, he was worried about Butler holding. No one else could do it?

    But inthe cards defense, if you have Swearinger, Badger, Jefferson, and Branch and decide to keep them, Christian wasn’t playing anyway. But if you let Jefferson and Swearinger leave at end of year, it would only put a spotlight on this crazy move

  15. By Redwing on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    It’s all in the eyes, in the eyes of Pat Tillman was a focus that I’ve rarely seen, if at all, in another person, unless you’re an eagle or some kind of raptor… He lived as if wild and free were his birthright, a heart beating to its own drum, an example to all to cease living for the comfort of entertainment. He reminds me to not live just for myself, selfishly, or for the illusion of this world, or for the fears of ego, but to live with the fire of passion and in the cool waters of the stillness of myself….

    If you can hear me, Pat, I owe you one.

  16. By mitchaz on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    * If we could see just how well Elijhaa Penny could do, then it might make it easier to wait until it is clear which position the Cardinals will need more, RB or CB/S.

    * What was so surprising about waiving Marqui Christian (beyond the debacle of keeping 2 mediocre at best punters) was how high Adrian Wilson was on this small college All-Star and how well Christian flashed at times during the pre-season. He was one of the few defenders during the pre-season who hit people. Still can’t believe Amos Jones didn’t pick him out as a STs tackler—but then again, Jones thought Kerwynn Williams could punt protect. That’s 3 young safeties the Cardinals have waived who are now on 53 man rosters: Harold Jones-Quartey (Bears), Mathias Farley (Colts) and Marqui Christian (Rams)—all picked up by teams with defensive oriented HCs.

  17. By Darren Urban on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    Mitchaz —

    RE: Penny

    The people that need to know what Penny can do watch him at practice every day.

  18. By JohnnyBluenose on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    I agree with those of you who want to see if Penney can contribute to our running game. Someone other than David Johnson needs to carry the ball. Taylor can but is never called on in a meaningful way and Ellington seems more like a decoy than an actual threat.

  19. By John The Draft Guy on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    Surprise, I am taking the other side on Penny.

    I think people are making a hero out of someone who had a pretty good preseason game 4 against players who were cut by other teams.

    But thumbs up or down, here are the facts.

    Penny has remained on the practice squad even when the Dolphins lost Arian Foster. He stayed on the PS when the Steelers had Bell suspended. He remained on the PS when Jamall Charles was injured. He remained on the PS when the Ravens gave up on Forsett.

    I could go on and on. Facts are facts. No other team (who all have the tape from the preseason game) have thought enough of him to pick him up on their 53 man squad.

    Trust me, scouts and GMs are looking at every team and every PS looking for someone to help their team. No one has picked him up. No one !!!!

    So, facts are facts. It is what it is. Thumbs down does not change the facts.

    So, why has no one picked him up? One thing I noticed (please go back and look at the game for yourself) is, in short yardage/goal line, how upright he runs. When hit on short yardage, he was stuffed because of his upright running style. If he could learn to run behind his pads, he could be a short yardage guy, but not from what I saw.
    If you are a power back and run high, you will struggle to make the 53. Penny is not any kind of answer at this point.

  20. By mitchaz on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply


    Practices in the NFL now are mostly non-contact. Wouldn’t you think that the Cardinals won’t really know what they have in Penny until he plays in games?

    Let’s face it. Ellington is not a RB you hand the ball to three times in a row between the tackles.

    The Cardinals finally have the personnel to punish people in the running game. DJ can’t do it all on his own. Ellington is a change of pace, bounce-out RB, receiver. Taylor, as JohhnyBluenose points out, rarely if ever gets the nod from BA.

    Wouldn’t it be great to see a Cardinals’ RB lower his shoulder and put a pounding on the defense?

  21. By Darren Urban on Oct 29, 2016 | Reply

    Mitchaz —

    RE: Penny

    They saw him all summer, all training camp, all preseason. So I disagree.

  22. By clssylssy on Oct 30, 2016 | Reply

    JTDR, Darren, and all..
    OTAs, Training Camp, preseason do not equal real time in a regular season game. While BA and all have seen Penney, we all know BA/Keim have favorites and a “type”…Ellington, John Brown, JJ, CJ, i.e., small speedsters, with DJ proven the exception rather than the rule.
    This time of year, injuries are beginning to take a toll, but with half the season gone, I think most teams are looking for players who can come in and make a difference NOW, who are going to be able to pick up a playbook without having to translate the language, etc.; most probably won’t be looking at a PS player with no real time experience. The Cards pull from our PS because they are familiar with the system and are Cap friendly, and, they are a known commodity with the coaches. The players we have taken mid-season before have been players familiar to BA (Freeney, Redding) who haven’t had to deal with “first game jitters” etc. but who have had previous success in the NFL.
    What you say is true, but having more than one ground and pound RB with CJ as the “change of pace” guys seems to be more of a solution in the longterm than gambling on running DJ into the ground with only hopes that our passing game will get back on track.

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