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2017 Training Camp Preview: Arizona Cardinals running backs are David Johnson and...?

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Who gets to be the backup to the best running back in the NFL? The competition will be fierce.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals-OTA Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Players

David Johnson, Andre Ellington, T.J. Logan, Kerwynn Williams, Elijhaa Penny, James Summers

The Arizona Cardinals have no questions about who their running back is for the next five years.

David Johnson is the man.

The question becomes, who is the man behind the man?

Who is able to spare DJ, get him some rest and help carry the load for the Arizona Cardinals?

Is that player on their roster already for 2017?

Let's take a look.

David Johnson, like Carson Palmer, like Larry Fitzgerald is the unquestioned leader here. The only question is, how close can he get to matching or exceeding last year's production?

Andre Ellington is, at the moment the second running back on the depth chart.

No player has been as unfairly judged as Ellington, but that's what happens when you have success early.

Ellington burst onto the scene in 2013, prompting me to start the #FreeEllington movement.

It was short lived though, as Ellington's inability to stay healthy, the same issue he had at Clemson that caused him to fall to the Cardinals in the sixth round, made him exclusively a backup in the end. Even that has been a hard road, as Ellington has consistently battled leg injuries every year of his career.

He was briefly moved to wide receiver at the beginning of the 2017 offseason, but moved back to running back before it ever amounted to anything. Now, he's in battle to make the roster.

Kerwynn Williams seems to be the fan favorite to be the main backup to David Johnson. He's been cut a number of times, but he always finds a way back to the Cardinals and more than that, a way to contribute.

All he has done every time he has been given an opportunity is produce.

Now, he enters with expectations, something he has never had before.

T.J. Logan is a rookie with a purpose… return kickoffs. If he gives the Cardinals anything more, it is just a bonus at this point. He has the opportunity to be a good satellite player for the Cardinals, but it's hard to be that when DJ is that and more.

Elijhaa Penny is the absolute wild card of the bunch. After being a practice squad player for 2016, he goes into his second training camp with an intriguing size/speed combo, something that could make him a contender to make the roster and usurp carries from the lead backup. He has to show more than an ability to run the ball though, as if he's just a ball carrier, he may not have much use for Arizona.

James Summers feels like your typical camp body, big running back. At 6-1 215lbs, Summers has a limited number of college carries, which could make him a surprise, he was a quarterback at East Carolina as a junior, but it feels like an uphill climb for the rookie to find more than a practice squad spot as a rookie.

What Happens?

Who performs the best in the preseason?

It feels like it's Ellington vs the roster to make it at this point.

Ellington has to outperform Williams and Penny as a runner and offer more as a pass catcher than Logan.

In the end, will Ellington be able to:

  1. Show more
  2. Stay healthy

Surprise Cuts?

I mean, David Johnson being cut is literally the only thing that could be a surprise.

Outside of another player showing more as a return man than Logan, Johnson and Logan seem like locks.

From there, it's a race to the last two spots for Ellington, Williams, Penny and Summers. The biggest surprise would be Summers making the roster, right?