Rashad Johnson staying true to self with new opportunity in 2013

USA TODAY Sports

Johnson knows he isn't Adrian Wilson or Kerry Rhodes.

Arizona Cardinals safety Rashad Johnon took a while to develop as a player. Selected in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft, it didn't look like he would amount to more than a special teams guy. He certainly was not the playmaker he was at Alabama.

However, after getting some solid playing time in 2011 when Kerry Rhodes broke his feet, he showed that he could be effective, although not particularly flashy.

In 2012, he made more plays and had an impact. There were two interceptions, a fumble recovery and fake punt run.

Now that he has re-signed and both Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes, Johnson has a chance to establish himself as a bona fide starter.

Fox Sports Arizona ran a piece on the Cardinals safeties and Johnson shared how he prepared himself.

"My attitude was: Don't just accept the role that they give you; train for the role that you want to be in, and eventually you'll get into it," said Johnson. "The step I took last year was approaching every game like I was the starter by taking the time in the film room, even though I knew I was going to start out only playing third down and special teams."

This year, though, to the fans and the media, Johnson has big shoes to fill. That doesn't mean he has to try to be Wilson or Rhodes.

"I can't go in and say I'm going to be Adrian Wilson," he said. "I'm going to be Rashad Johnson -- a guy who plays smart and understands the game and knows when to take his chances.

"I don't have to hold up the legacy that he or Kerry left. There are 10 other guys on the field, and we're going to rally to the ball and play together. If we're winning games, my legacy doesn't matter."

This would explain in part why he accepted what most would consider a very modest contract (three years, $4.8 million) for someone who likely will start.

What type of year are you expecting from Johnson?

Keep up with Cardinals news and opinions when you are not on the site. Follow Revenge of the Birds on Twitter at @revengeofbirds and "like" us on Facebook. You can follow me individually at @senorjessroot.

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