Monday, August 10, 2009

Michael Johnson Moving On Up

After a productive weekend that included two sacks in Friday night's scrimmage, rookie defensive end Michael Johnson is moving on up. He's second on the depth chart now at right defensive end. If he shows he can hold up against the run, who knows if he'll ever stop moving up. When a player is blessed with overwhelming talent, he can makes his presence known immediately. These guys are known as "freaks". During an interview before training camp I noticed defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's eyes light up like disco-balls when he mentioned Michael Johnson's name. So I asked Zimmer if he considered Johnson a "freak", and he answered "yeah", followed by this:

Four or five guys in his career. Zimmer has been in the NFL game since 1994. He's been at coach at the collegiate level or above since 1979. That's a lot of guys he's seen. It's too early to go nuts over this, but I'm more than cautiously optimistic about Johnson than most. How many times in the past have you had high hopes for a rookie only to hear the kiss of death. Statements from coaches that go along the lines of "he's having trouble picking up the system", or, "he has some things to work on before we can put him into a game situation." That's a red-flag for "this guy ain't panning out." There's only one rookie I remember getting that tag and then he turned out to be gangbusters. Corey Dillon. Bruce Coslet used the blitz-pickup excuse to keep Dillon on the bench a little longer than he should have been. So far nothing even close to that is being said about Johnson. In fact, coaches might be trying to temper their glee. I can't wait to see the kid in action Friday night when the live bullets are being fired.

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