RB DAVID JOHNSON
What happened in your last season with Arizona, and what do you hope to bring to Houston's run game?
"I think last season was just rough. I had little nicks and bruises with some minor injuries – nothing major. Kliff (Kingsbury) told me that they were going with the hot hand with Chase (Edmonds) and then with Kenyan (Drake), and it was just tough to bounce back from that. But it's a new team and I'm excited, and I think the biggest thing I want to contribute to the team is just my ability to run the ball and to be able to catch. Like you said, one of my biggest strengths is catching out of the backfield or being put out at wide receiver, but my ability to run the ball is also very strong. That's my biggest thing, is I just want to be an every down back for Houston, and get that momentum going for the offense and continue the success that they already have."
What crossover, if any, do you see in the Texans offense and the one that you played in at Arizona in 2016?
"From just watching – I've actually been watching them even more now, just obviously being traded, but I've always watched them, they've always been in the playoffs. So, for them as an offense, especially with Deshaun (Watson), and then watching Duke (Johnson) just this last year, the way he's been utilized as a receiver out of the backfield and that explosive offense. They've got a lot of fast receivers, a lot of dynamic guys, and I actually played with Darren Fells in 2016 with the Cardinals, so I've watched his ability to get open. I was just watching the playoff game against the Bills, and his ability to be utilized getting open on third downs that were crucial last year was pretty significant for the Texans. Hopefully I can continue to help out the offense that way."
When you first heard about the trade to Houston, what was your initial reaction, and now that you're here, what do you hope to prove?
"My initial reaction was I was very excited. I was on vacation with my family, my wife and kids, and we were very excited – a new beginning. Like I've been saying, the Texans are always in the playoffs, a very successful team, and then they have weapons all over. I was very, very excited to be a part of that organization – very thankful talking to Bill O'Brien and the way he wants to utilize me, and talking to the running backs coach, and I talked to a lot of guys in the front office. It was excitement from the start, and basically I have that chip back on my shoulder. Ever since I've been in league, I've always had that chip. My biggest thing is I just want to get back to 2016, if not better than the 2016 season. I think the biggest thing, as everyone knows, is to stay healthy. I'm going to really hone in on everything that I can utilize with organization as far as recovery, making sure I do everything to keep my body healthy and be ready for the season."
Do you remember any conversations you had during the draft process with Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien?
"I'll be honest, going into the draft and going to the combine, it was such a blur, and it was five years from now. I honestly don't remember talking to many teams. It was just a whirlwind, and I was just so nervous, making sure I was saying the right thing and making sure I was ready for all the combine had to offer. Honestly, I don't remember talking to him. I do remember, actually, going to the interview, but I don't remember any questions or anything. It was just an intense moment with those interviews, those formal interviews, and every little thing was magnified throughout the draft and the combine that I don't remember what happened. But like I said, I've been paying attention to the Texans organization and all of their playmakers that they have, and I'm excited to hopefully get going there soon."
Why have you been so successful as a receiver?
"I think the biggest thing is I've always played receiver and running back in high school. It started from an early age, catching the ball, being able to have that coordination of catching the ball in different ways. Then going to college I was actually going to play receiver, so that whole summer going into college I was doing all the receiving routes, doing all receiving drills, and I did receiver for a while my freshman year at UNI. I think that just started translating then, and I joke a lot – even in eighth grade, ninth grade, I did a dodgeball league in Clinton (Iowa), and I was called 'glue hands.' I've always just been able to have the hand-eye coordination to catch the ball, and it's been very effective for me in the league."
What do you think the transition to the Texans is going to be like for you with this unique offseason?
"It's not even just football, it's the pandemic that's going on. I think the biggest thing is hopefully getting down to Houston soon, because I haven't even been down there. I'm still back home. I think the change is really just going to be how fast I can pick up the offense, the playbook, hopefully getting to meet the organization – everyone in the organization, teammates, front office, coaches, and just trying to get a relationship with them. With the fast turnaround, I'm guessing that's going to happen once the season, OTAs or whatever happens, whenever that starts. I think that's going to be the biggest key is just being able to figure out the offense quickly and be ready whenever it does start."
You and your wife have always been very involved in the community. Will you continue to do that in Houston, and why is that so important to you?
"Most definitely. We were already planning on trying to do something effective to help out the pandemic for Houston and the state of Texas. It's been really big for me and my wife just because for me in my upbringing, I had so much help surrounding me, molding me in who I am today, between coaches, teammates, teammates' parents. I had a lot of people driving me to football games, driving me to traveling basketball that helped me out – teachers as well, a big influence surrounding me. I just wanted to give that back and I just wanted to help out the less fortunate and be there for them and support them and help them get through daily struggles. Especially, like I said, with what's going on now, it's hit the world, and I want to be able to help out Houston and that community. I've heard nothing but good things about Houston and that community, the team, the fans. So, I'm excited to get down there hopefully pretty soon, and me and my wife can start helping out the community as fast as possible."
What did you learn from playing with Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald?
"I learned a lot. There's so much that I learned from him. I've learned just as much off the field as I did on the field, just as far as entrepreneurship, being a leader – not just by speaking, but leading by example, doing everything right on and off the field, so no one can ever have anything negative to say about you. Helping the communities, he's helped me with that and my brand, how personable I am. No matter who I meet, just being able to talk to them and relate to them, no matter who it is. I think the biggest thing is his work ethic on the field. He's always out there before practice catching footballs, practicing catching footballs, always out there after catching footballs. I think he catches about 50 to 100 before and after practice. He's a guy who's always ready to play. He's taught me a lot, especially about keeping my body healthy. Doing everything, cold tubbing after games, seeing as many massage therapists, dry needling, seeing all of those people, psychiatrist as well. He's just taught me so much and I hopefully can continue to utilize what he's taught me and be able to prolong my football career as long as he has and doing it at a level as long as he has."
How have you processed the public's reaction to you and Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins being traded?
"I haven't really paid too much attention to that just because I've always, like I said, everyone's always doubted me ever since coming out of high school. You can't please everyone. I've learned that as well in the league. Everyone has something to say, especially with this social media getting so big with Twitter and Instagram and stuff. Everyone's talking behind a screen and there's always going to be something no matter what you do. You can be the greatest and someone will have something to say. I've learned a long time ago how to just ignore that and keep grinding, and keep making sure that I'm as prepared as I can be for Houston. I'm excited that Bill O'Brien came out and got me, and I'll be ready for them once I get there."
Have you talked to QB Deshaun Watson and what are your expectations for playing with a guy like him?
"We've texted briefly. He just said that he's excited having me as a part of the team, I said the same. I'm very excited to play with him. I can't wait to line up next to him and help him out whether that be catching the ball, running the ball or blitz protection. Just from watching him – I've watched him ever since college, honestly. He played down here when they played in the bowl game and I got an up-front view of how big of a playmaker he is for the offense as quarterback, calling the plays and not just utilizing his throwing arm, but also running the ball. So, I think it will be tremendous what we can do together as far as for the offense and continue, like I said, that success and hopefully getting over that hump of through the playoffs and getting to the Super Bowl."
Do you have any idea on how you're going to learn this offense through a virtual setting?
"Honestly, I haven't thought to what to use. Normally, I'd just use kind of the notecards to learn offenses. That's the way I've done for schooling and it's helped out a lot. So, I think I'll use the same, a notecard-type system just to memorize the offense, the scheme, and the plays. We'll see. We haven't even used it and started it yet, so I think everyone's going to have to go with the flow and try to figure out ways to learn the offense or learn the scheme as they go."
What do you say to people questioning your longevity and durability?
"I say that you can't really – I think that really is a big misconception, especially in this league. It's football. Guys get nicked up, get injuries all the time, so you can't really predict what's going to happen. I know that I'm going to do everything that I can to be ready and keep my body as healthy as possible. I think that the biggest thing that I'm going to really focus on is doing overtime as far as keeping my body healthy. Maybe doing the cold tub a little longer, doing treatment a little longer, even if I don't need to. Maybe I got a little bruise, just making sure I make sure that's as healthy as possible before I even go step on the practice field or in a game. I think that's the biggest thing. Just like I was telling my wife, just going back to my rookie year of doing everything that I can to make sure that my body is healthy and starting a clean slate for sure with a new team."
What do you think of the possibility of playing in an empty stadium?
"That's tough because it's hard to – as much of a motivation it is to play on the field, when you get the fans and the crowd, when they're in the game screaming and stuff, that gets everyone pumped. I think that really drives the level of energy for a lot of players, just to hear the fans cheering or even hearing the opponent's fans silence is a huge key, I feel like, in football games. So, it's going to tough. It's definitely going to be tough at the beginning of trying – if we do it that way – of trying to get everyone one, motivated and keeping their energy up throughout the game, especially at the beginning. I don't know. It's going to be really hard at the beginning to play through that."
Houston Texans agree to acquire RB David Johnson from the Arizona Cardinals.