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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Johnson Emerging in Race for Roster Spot

    Monday, August 13, 2007
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    In the preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings, it took nobody by surprise when a former Nebraska defensive end came up with a sack on his first play of the game. What was surprising was that the player wasn’t Adam Carriker.

    That player was defensive end and former Cornhusker Trevor Johnson. Entering his fourth season in the NFL, the Rams’ acquisition of Johnson at the end of the regular season in 2006 flew under the radar.

    Johnson won’t wow anyone with size, speed or strength, but his resume is impressive.

    “He’s just a reliable, steady football player,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “He’s really smart. He does everything right. He’s played linebacker in the past; he’s played defensive end. He has bulked up to play end here. We like him. He has a good shot at making the team. He’s one of those guys you can rely on. He’s going to be where he’s supposed to be.”

    Johnson spent his first three seasons playing for the New York Jets, appearing in 26 games in just over two seasons. As a seventh-round choice of the Jets, Johnson played in every game in 2004.

    There he posted 15 tackles as a rookie before adding 19 stops in nine games in his second season. After a strong preseason last year in which he had three interceptions playing outside linebacker in coach Eric Mangini’s 3-4 defensive scheme, Johnson was released three games into the season.

    On Nov. 29, the Saints signed Johnson to a contract. He was placed on waivers just after the regular season and the Rams claimed him. He was finally awarded to the team on Feb. 5.

    Johnson was excited about the opportunity and, most of all, to move back to his natural defensive end position and get his weight back up around 270 pounds.

    “It’s definitely my most comfortable position,” Johnson said. “That’s a legit weight. I have done a lot to put that weight on and I feel pretty comfortable at it. It’s a good weight for me.”

    Johnson had a distinguished career for the Cornhuskers where he started 22 games and played in 46. After starting his career as a tight end behind former Ram Grant Wistrom’s brother Tracey, Johnson resurfaced on the depth chart as a defensive end. It was a move the Lincoln, Neb., native embraced.

    “They have been known as a good defensive end school,” Johnson said. “When I came in as a tight end, they asked me if I wanted to switch to defensive end and I thought it would be a great opportunity because of the past defenses at Nebraska. I was real excited about being part of the “Black Shirts.”

    Johnson racked up 131 tackles with 7.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries for the Cornhuskers, but was too much of a ‘tweener to land somewhere early in the draft.

    Now, Johnson finds himself embroiled in another training camp battle as he fights for a spot on the final 53-man roster.

    The Rams’ top three are set at defensive end on the depth chart with Leonard Little, James Hall and Victor Adeyanju in place.

    Should the Rams opt to keep four defensive ends, that leaves Johnson, Eric Moore and undrafted rookie Alton Pettway competing for the final spot. Moore played for the team last season and has a better knowledge of the defense than Johnson.

    It’s no guarantee the Rams will keep four defensive ends, either. Tackle Claude Wroten played some end last season and could be used as a fourth end in a pinch should the team prefer to keep an extra defensive tackle or possibly more depth at another position.

    Regardless, Johnson is hoping to build on the success of his first preseason game and make it difficult for the Rams to choose anyone else.

    “I just try to go out there and play my best every single time I go out there and leave it up to the coaches and let them decide what they are going to do,” Johnson said. “If I go out and do my best every time, I know I will be in the running.”

    OPEN FOR BUSINESS: After what was the hottest recorded day of training camp practice since the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995, the Rams got a break from Mother Nature on Monday morning.

    The Rams practiced in temperatures over 100 degrees Sunday afternoon, but enjoyed an overcast day in which the temperature was in the upper 70s for most of the workout.

    The practice was open to the fans and coach Scott Linehan said he would expect that to be the case the rest of the week.

    “Unless something changes, we will be outside all week; tonight and the rest of the week,” Linehan said. “I don’t think there should be any reason that we aren’t open all week. Practice should stay on schedule.”

    Temperatures are expected to rise throughout the week with Wednesday expected to be as hot as it’s been in recent days. But Linehan seems committed to having the workouts outside for the remainder of camp.

    “Well, it would have to change,” Linehan said. “I don’t know how hot it was today, but I didn’t anticipate the change, which was a big break. The whole town was looking for a little break in the weather.”

    INJURY UPDATE: The injury report is similar to what it has been in recent days with only a few changes.

    Linebacker Tim McGarigle seemed to be making progress, but had a setback and the Rams pulled back on the reins. He sat out Monday’s practices.

    Defensive tackle La’Roi Glover is still dealing with a hip injury and didn’t participate Monday. Glover had an MRI and it revealed some swelling. He is expected back on the practice field as soon as tomorrow.

    Receivers Dane Looker (back) and Dominique Thompson (ribs) are still out, safety Todd Johnson has a sore back, but practiced and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (chest) didn’t do any team activities.

    Linehan said receiver Torry Holt appears to be making serious progress on his recovering knee.

    “I think Torry is getting his leg back to normal,” Linehan said. “He is doing a lot better this week than he did last week. I know we are doing the right thing with getting him ready for September.”

    RAM BITS: Tight end Aaron Walker continues to fight his way up the depth chart and has been getting more work as the team’s third tight end in recent days…meanwhile, Walker continues to work as the team’s backup long snapper…cornerback Ron Bartell had a rough start in the preseason opener but impressed Linehan with how he bounced back after the missteps. Linehan says Bartell is having a good camp and should be ready to start when the season begins…Andy McCollum will get the start against San Diego this weekend, a good test considering Jamal Williams is the Chargers’ top defensive tackle…recently signed receiver Fred Gibson had a good day Monday, making a number of nice catches on the long ball and using his size to go up and come down with some jump balls.

  2. #2
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    Re: Johnson Emerging in Race for Roster Spot

    Yeah he played well in the preseason game. I kept saying, "Who is that guy?"

  3. #3
    mde8352gorams's Avatar
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    Re: Johnson Emerging in Race for Roster Spot

    Sounds better than signing an injured Simeon Rice and bumping the salary cap higher!

  4. #4
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Johnson Emerging in Race for Roster Spot

    Wish him the best of luck! The more good competition we have, the better.

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