When safety Rashad Johnson was drafted, he was expected to be a playmaking safety, much like the way Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes have had the reputation of making plays. It hasn't worked out that way yet. In fact, a lot of people thought that when Adrian Wilson had his biceps injury that Johnson would have his shot at the year.
It hasn't been that way.
Now, though, with Kerry Rhodes out for several weeks with a broken foot, Johnson gets his shot.
Johnson is already a contributor. He is a leader on special teams. He worked himself into playing time last season. He became the team's nickel safety.
He has yet to make an impact on any game, but now his chance is here because he will start in Rhodes' place.
Teammate Larry Fitzgerald is excited for him. He said this after Monday's practice about Johnson:
"The thing about Rashad is that since the day he walked in the door he's a very mature guy. He was coached very well by Coach (Nick) Saban down at Alabama. He's got a real good confidence to him. As an older guy myself and I look at him, I look at him as a guy that respects the game, pays attention to the details, wants to be great, but hasn't really had his opportunity. So I'm excited for him because he gets to go out there to show all the hard work he's put in. I just hope he plays well for us."
Now, of course, Fitz is saying what he needs to say.
I think we all hope the same thing. He has been in a couple of plays that he would probably like back, During the preseason, he was called for a questionable pass interference penalty that went for a lot of yards. Last week in relief of Rhodes, he slipped in coverage (Aaron Francisco in the Super Bowl, anyone?) which allowed Minnesota a big play. Other than that, his time on the field is rather unmemorable.
He has his chance now. With not a lot of depth at safety, the Cardinals need him to step up.
What are the odds that he makes his first big play of the year on defense against the Steelers? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there will be at least one play that he is remembered for. Hopefully it will be good.