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With Christian Kirk Out, WR KeeSean Johnson Could be X-factor Sunday

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver KeeSean Johnson could have a significant role Sunday with Christian Kirk sidelined by a groin injury.

It was a frustrating first two games of the season for Cardinals wide receiver KeeSean Johnson.

After a productive training camp, the second-year player was suddenly unavailable after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Sept. 11, two days before the team’s season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. He has been the only Cardinals player to spend time on the list since the opening of training camp in late July.

Johnson spent 10 days on reserve and was activated this week on Monday. He practiced all week, and now with wide receiver Christian Kirk declared out of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions because of a groin injury, Johnson could have a significant role this weekend.

In 2019, he played 10 games with four starts and was inactive for six games, compiling 21 receptions for 187 yards (8.9 average) and one touchdown.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver KeeSean Johnson (19) makes a catch against Detroit Lions cornerback Rashaan Melvin (29) in the second half during a game on Sep. 8, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz.

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He won’t be unknown to the Lions because in his NFL debut last season, Johnson had five catches for 46 yards in the season-opening 27-27 tie between the teams.

Asked if Kirk’s absence will create added opportunity for Johnson and Andy Isabella, head coach Kliff Kingsbury said, “I do. I think both guys will see more time and have a chance to show how they've developed and then what we've seen in camp. Hopefully, that translates to the field, but they'll definitely be in the mix.”

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is excited to see what Johnson can contribute.

“First, we're just happy to have him back healthy,” Fitzgerald said. “We missed him just as much as he missed us. He had a great camp. He's worked extremely hard this offseason. And to be able to have him back out there; he's a really knowledgeable, smart player and is a great route runner.

“You can never have enough talent on the field at one time and having him back and playing at a fast pace, his legs look great; he's fresh. I'm looking forward to him having a big day on Sunday.”