After an offseason of quarantines, protests and, above all, uncertainty, the NFL returned to action on Thursday. Its first touchdown came from a player involved in one of the offseason’s biggest trades.
Midway though the first quarter, Houston Texans running back David Johnson broke free on second-and-1 to score a 19-yard touchdown and get the underdogs on the board. Unfortunately for the Texans, the Kansas City Chiefs then responded with 31 straight points in a 34-20 victory.
Johnson showed flashes of his old Pro Bowl form, though, tallying 77 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. He also added 32 yards on three catches.
On the first run, Johnson found a hole to his right, broke a tackle and outraced the defense down the sideline. In the process, he paid out some significant money to one bettor.
The Chiefs had appeared to get the season’s first touchdown one drive earlier on a gorgeous pass from Patrick Mahomes, but the pass was later ruled incomplete after further review.
Texans’ trade for David Johnson was widely panned
That touchdown is a welcome sight for a player many saw as a non-asset when the Texans traded away star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for Johnson, plus a 2020 second-rounder and a swap of fourth-rounders.
Johnson struggled with injuries last year with the Cardinals and ultimately saw Kenyan Drake take over the starting job in Arizona. Given that Johnson was still playing on a three-year, $39 million extension signed in 2018, there didn’t seem to be much of a market for a highly paid, underperforming running back.
Still, Texans coach Bill O’Brien must have seen something in Johnson when he traded Hopkins away for not much draft capital alongside Johnson. The trade was widely criticized, especially when the Buffalo Bills acquired Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs for significantly more draft value than the Texans got for Hopkins.
With Thursday’s touchdown, Johnson at least seemed to show some of the form that catapulted him to All-Pro status in 2016.
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