With more than 10,000 rushing yards in his career and nearly 5,000 receiving yards, three-time Pro Bowl running back Warrick Dunn helped set the stage for this generation of dual-threat backs currently carving up the NFL.
“Actually, I’m a David Johnson fan,” Dunn said Wednesday on Good Morning Football. “I met him after his rookie year at the Super Bowl and I was just a fan just because he’s so humble but at the same time, he’s a guy who has come from nowhere. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar and he’s really come into his own to become a complete back. He catches the ball out of the backfield, he can block, he can run between the tackles and outside. He’s really impressed me.”
While the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Dunn didn’t share a body type with the 6-foot-1, 224-pound Johnson, they had a similarly unpredictable personality as running backs. Dunn was never afraid to cut inside, nor has Johnson shied away from the more finesse aspects of the game.
Both made their first Pro Bowl within two years of entering the league — and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians certainly believes Johnson is among a very rare breed of running back capable of amassing 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season.
“He should have had it last year,” Arians said Wednesday on Good Morning Football about Johnson missing out on the 1,000/1,000 mark. “He busted some routes in September that would have put him over easily. I was on his tail a little bit early in the season. I think he probably had a chance had he not gotten hurt in that last game, and thank goodness, knock on wood, he’s fine.
“But yeah, I don’t think there is a ceiling for him. He can run the football, he can start at wide receiver … so we just have to watch that we don’t overwork him.”
While players in markets like Arizona tend to get overshadowed by All-Pro backs from Pittsburgh or Dallas, it’s encouraging to see Johnson’s body of work receiving the proper appreciation so far. With Cardinals coach Bruce Arians insisting he’s not scared to overuse Johnson a year after getting him nearly 400 touches in the passing and running game, his appreciation among NFL legends could just be taking off.