Kerwynn Williams gets first crack at No. 1 RB role for Arizona Cardinals

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Kerwynn Williams, Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson will all have roles in Sunday's game vs. the Colts -- the Cardinals'

Maybe it was confusing because the quarterback was actually practicing on a Wednesday, but Carson Palmer and coach Bruce Arians certainly seemed to have their signals crossed when they were asked how much the Cardinals’ offense would change without the injured David Johnson.

According to Arians, it won’t change at all.

“No. Not one iota,” he said.

When the same question was posed to Palmer, however, the answer was quite different.

“It changes drastically,” Palmer said. “You lose who I think is one of the best football players in this league, things are obviously going to change.”

Johnson, who will be sidelined two to three months after undergoing wrist surgery this week, represented nearly 40 percent of Arizona’s offense. Even the head coach knows that the offense ran through the running back and all of Johnson’s many talents.

Now, it will take many bodies to replace him, and even five of them probably won’t be enough. You just don’t replace a guy who accumulated more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage, led the league with 20 touchdowns and can be just as dangerous lined up as a wide receiver as he was at running over linebackers and safeties.

“There’s a whole lot of catches for somebody else,” Palmer said. “He had 2,000 yards of offense, so somebody’s got to step up. We’re not going to run every single exact play Dave ran, running routes, because that was something very specific to Dave that he did really, really well. Things change when you lose a guy who produced 2,000 yards in one season.”

Things may change, but beginning with Sunday’s game at Indianapolis, Kerwynn Williams will get the first crack at being the team’s new starting running back. Andre Ellington will spell him, Arians said, and likely get the bulk of third-down passing situations.

“It’s some big shoes to fill,” Ellington said of losing Johnson, “but we’re more than capable of doing it. As an offense, we’ve just got to pull tighter together and execute.”

Chris Johnson, who was re-signed after being released during the Cardinals’ final roster cuts, will also get some carries on Sunday, according to Arians. Considering how upset he was about being released in the first place, it might serve the Cardinals well by giving a motivated Johnson more touches than just a few.

“Of course I didn’t like it,” he said, adding he “definitely” was surprised. “I can just control what I can control and just go out there and do whatever I can to help the team win. … I knew some opportunity would come sooner or later.”

Johnson said he didn’t have bitterness toward the Cardinals about being cut.

“I just had bitterness about being cut, period," he said. "The type of player I am and being that it was unexpected and never thinking that would happen, of course there was bitterness. But I couldn’t dwell on it; I just had to make sure I stayed in shape and get ready for whatever opportunity I had coming toward me.”

Williams, who was a seventh-round draft pick by the Colts in 2013, will be making his first NFL start. He’s had one 100-yard rushing game, which came for the Cardinals against the Chiefs in 2014.

“It’s definitely exciting. It’s definitely an opportunity I haven’t had before and I’m definitely excited for the opportunity,” Williams said.

For now, Williams will pull double duty as the team’s primary kickoff and punt returner. That could be risky, but Williams isn’t worried that the extra work could slow him.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is just staying consistent and be smart at the return game. I think you have to account for fatigue if there is any, and you just have to be ready.”

So will the other two running backs on the roster: holdover Elijhaa Penny and newcomer D.J. Foster, the former Arizona State standout. Both can contribute right away on special teams, although it seems doubtful the Cardinals will dress five running backs on game days.

Penny has said he’s patterned his running back style after David Johnson and likes to consider himself Johnson’s “mini-me” twin. He has a bruising running style like Johnson and can also pop to the outside and flash deceptive, breakaway speed.

Foster, signed off the New England Patriots’ practice squad, likely will need more time learning the playbook before he gets a chance at taking any snaps on offense. Arians, though, liked what he saw from the second-year pro after watching him practice on Wednesday.

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Arizona Cardinals running back D.J. Foster (37) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz. (Photo: Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)

 

“He looked very, very good,” Arians said. “We loved him coming out of college because he can play slot receiver and he can play running back. He brings that added addition as a pass receiver. So, just as he learns the offense, he gives us depth at that position.”

They may not have a running back who can do all the things David Johnson could do, but the Cardinals hope that there is strength in numbers and that in five running backs, they’ll have enough of the right pieces and parts to salvage the offense and not make Arians have to tear things up and reinvent it.

It will work, Palmer said, if the five backs just find their roles, accept it, and play as one.

“You can’t get in the position where you feel like, ‘Well, I have to do more,’ or make more plays to make up for the lack of playmaking,” Palmer said. “We don’t need Chris to try and play like Dave. We’ve each got to play within ourselves and within our system. You can’t sit around and sulk. You can’t feel like you’ve got to do anything super human.”

 

 

kerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 2 Arizona Cardinals running back D.J. Foster (37) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 3 Arizona Cardinals running back D.J. Foster (37) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 4 Arizona Cardinals running back D.J. Foster (37) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 5 Arizona Cardinals running back D.J. Foster (37) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 6 Arizona Cardinals running back D.J. Foster (37) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 7 Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 8 Arizona Cardinals running back D.J. Foster (37) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 9 Arizona Cardinals Patrick Peterson (21) and Tyrann Mathieu during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 10 Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert (7) and Carson Palmer stretch during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 11 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer slips into his jersey as Drew Stanton (5) throws during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 12 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert (7) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 13 Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks (LtoR) Blaine Gabbert, Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton warm-up during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 14 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 15 Arizona Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick (43) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 16 Arizona Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams (33) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 17 Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 18 Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 19 Arizona Cardinals Jared Veldheer (68), Evan Boehm (70) and A.Q. Shipley (53) during practice at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Ariz.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 20 Arizona Cardinals safety Tyvon Branch on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 21 Arizona Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 22 Arizona Cardinals Chandler Jones (55) and Olsen Pierre (72) during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 23 Arizona Cardinals Haason Reddick during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 24 Arizona Cardinals punter Andy Lee during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 25 Arizona Cardinals punter Andy Lee during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 26 Arizona Cardinals (57) Josh Bynes and (80) Ifeanyi Momah during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 27 Arizona Cardinals punter Andy Lee during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 28 Arizona Cardinals Markus Golden (44) and Chandler Jones (55) during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 29 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer throw the ball during the weekly QB challenge on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 30 Arizona Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Tob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 31 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer likes his throw during the weekly QB challenge on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 32 Arizona Cardinals Haason Reddick during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 33 Arizona Cardinals Bruce Arians during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 34 Arizona Cardinals Patrick Peterson catching a punt on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 35 Arizona Cardinals guard Alex Boone (75) during practice on Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 36 Arizona Cardinals guard Alex Boone (75) during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 37 Arizona Cardinals guard Alex Boone (75) during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 38 Arizona Cardinals guard Alex Boone (75) during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 39 Arizona Cardinals special teams coordinator Amos Jones during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 40 Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 41 Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 42 Arizona Cardinals John Wetzel, Alex Boone (75) and Jared Veldheer during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 43 Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 44 Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 45 Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson kicks a ball during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 46 Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 47 Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 48 Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu during practice on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017 in Tempe, AZ.  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sportskerwynn-williams-gets-first-crack-at-no-1-rb-role-for-arizona-cardinals photo 49

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Article Kerwynn Williams gets first crack at No. 1 RB role for Arizona Cardinals compiled by www.azcentral.com

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