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David Johnson's views being incorporated into offense

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  • By Thomas Warren NFL.com
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Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks gave Byron Leftwich a primary directive when he named him offensive coordinator after Week 7: get David Johnson the ball!

After one game it seems Leftwich has received the message loud and clear.

Johnson touched the ball 20 times and amassed 100 yards from scrimmage in the Cardinals' 18-15 win over the 49ers in Week 8, marking just the second time all season the third-year back has reached triple digits.

Johnson says he and his new OC are building a comfort level the more they work together.

"He was here before, so he already knows what's kind of going to work," Johnson told the team's website. "So, he's talking to me and letting me know that we're going to get back to that and were going to try and find the mismatches against linebackers or safeties or defenses."

For Leftwich, part of building trust will come from Johnson having a more vocal influence on the type of offense he runs.

"I ask him questions all the time," Leftwich said. "I always have, because when you have players that good, you want to always know what they're thinking."

The Cardinals hired Leftwich as quarterbacks coach in 2017. He was promoted to offensive coordinator Oct. 19 after Mike McCoy was fired a day after the Cardinals' 45-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football.

The Leftwich approach is a bit of a departure from Johnson's days under Bruce Arians when he chose to be a silent assassin however he was used in the offense.

Things are different now.

"This year, ever since training camp started that's been the biggest thing that coaches have been trying to get me to do, because they say I'm the one running the ball, I'm the one doing the routes and stuff. So, what I see out there, they want my opinion," Johnson said.

Johnson's ability as a receiver out of the backfield makes him one of the top duel-threat backs in the league, but that skill has been underutilized this year. That changed last week when Johnson matched his season high of 41 receiving yards.

The screen game was the catalyst, which Johnson hopes to see more of.

"It works really well. Especially, against the D-lineman that like to rush the pass or the run trying to get upfield. It really slows them down, makes them hesitate a little bit more in trying to figure out what's going on," Johnson said.

Leftwich has his hands full instituting a new offense with a rookie quarterback at the helm, but Johnson is confident his new offensive leader can work out the kinks.

"He's been here. He knows how to utilize the weapons that he has," Johnson said.

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