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  • ***** add Arena fullback


    Contra Costa Times

    SANTA CLARA - At 275 pounds, fullback Brian Johnson wasn't hard to miss Monday in his first practice with the *****, who signed him to help compensate for the short-term loss of starting fullback Fred Beasley to an ankle sprain.

    Johnson has played the past two seasons in the Arena Football League with the San Jose SaberCats. But it wasn't until this season that he changed from being an offensive and defensive lineman to a fullback and a linebacker.

    ''I had a solid Arena season, and winning the (Arena Bowl) championship definitely helped,'' Johnson said. He changed positions prior to this past season after reporting in better shape than the 305 pounds he once found himself carrying.

    When he worked out for the SaberCats in 2002, Johnson said he also worked out for the *****. He worked out again last week for the *****, who called on him to help at fullback where Beasley is expected out for four weeks and Jasen Isom (knee) another week.

    Johnson was a starting defensive end at the University of New Mexico, where he also played some tight end. ''The position I'm playing now is my favorite,'' Johnson said. ''The reason is it's taken me the farthest.''

    Sitting out|

    Beasley (left ankle), free safety Dwaine Carpenter (left knee), defensive tackle Michael Landry (left forearm laceration), linebacker Brandon Moore (right hamstring) and guard Scott Rehberg (lower back) joined nine other regulars on the no-practice list. Among those also sitting out were center Jeremy Newberry (right knee), wide receiver Rashaun Woods (right hamstring) and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga (lower back). Unsure when Woods will return, ***** coach Dennis Erickson said Sopoaga could be back next week, adding: ''He's big and strong, but he hasn't played much. It's crucial he gets out here.''

    Rattay practices|

    Quarterback Tim Rattay returned from a two-week layoff and practiced, but in very limited fashion as he didn't throw any passes and simply worked on taking snaps and handing off to running backs.

    Extra points

    Although Cody Pickett took snaps as the second-string quarterback in two-minute drills Monday, Erickson said Pickett will remain behind Brandon Doman and probable starter Ken Dorsey in the quarterback rotation for Saturday's exhibition game at Chicago.

    • Defensive tackle Anthony Adams returned to practice after sitting out the past two weeks with a sprained right ankle.

    • To make room for Johnson, the club released wide receiver Wendall Williams for the second time this camp.

    • Former ***** running back Roger Craig will be signing his new book, ''Tales from the *****' Sideline,'' on Wednesday at The Booksmith (1644 Haight Street) in San Francisco from 7 to 9 p.m.

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Johnson Emerging in Race for Roster Spot
    by RamWraith
    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...
    -08-14-2007, 10:39 AM
  • RamWraith
    Injuries slow Rams' speedy new CB
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Sep. 06 2005

    At his pro day coming out of college, Chris Johnson turned heads by running the
    40-yard dash in a sizzling 4.18 seconds.

    "To me it's a blessing," Johnson said. "A lot of people aren't really blessed
    to be that fast. So that's just something that stuck with me once I did it."

    It stuck with him, all right. Johnson, a cornerback from the University of
    Louisville, commemorated the occasion with a tattoo. The inscription is "4." on
    his left calf. His right calf reads: "18." Put them together, and you have

    That was 2 1/2 years ago. The tattoo is still there.

    "It's not going nowhere," Johnson said.

    No, but Johnson is. The fastest player in the 2003 NFL draft was traded
    Saturday evening from Green Bay to the Rams for linebacker Robert Thomas.
    Johnson, 25, passed his physical Sunday morning, flew into St. Louis that night
    and was on the practice field Monday at Rams Park.

    Even though Johnson entered the NFL in 2003, knee and leg injuries so far have
    prevented him from playing in a regular-season game.

    Physically, Johnson says, "I feel great."

    As for being traded for a former NFL first-rounder, Johnson laughed and added,
    "That feels even better."

    The Rams, obviously, were eager to dump Thomas, whose toughness and intensity
    were questioned by some at Rams Park. So eager that he was traded for a former
    seventh-round pick whose next NFL game will be his first.

    "Here's a tall guy with terrific deep speed and range," coach Mike Martz said.
    "He has the reach."

    But can he stay healthy? "After my first year, it was just really a mind
    thing," said Johnson, who is 5 feet 11, 198 pounds. "So I had to dedicate
    myself back to the weight room, and back to running. And just focus on my job.
    Once I did that, everything came into play. So now I'm feeling good and ready
    to go."

    In Green Bay, Johnson suffered a season-ending injury to his right knee as a
    rookie when he collided with wide receiver Donald Driver in a training camp
    practice. So much for his 2003 season.

    "I was trying to cover him, and he stopped, and I kind of placed my knee up
    under his backbone," Johnson said. "It was a little freak accident."

    That was injury No. 1.

    Before the 2004 season, Johnson suffered a stress fracture in the tibia, the
    larger of the two bones in the lower leg. Contrary to previous reports, the
    injury was in his left leg - not the same leg as his knee injury....
    -09-07-2005, 05:25 AM
  • RamWraith
    Huskers teammates now are trying out for Rams defense
    by RamWraith
    Trevor Johnson, Adam Carriker seek spot on team

    ST. LOUIS --
    As a senior defensive end at the University of Nebraska, Trevor Johnson didn't want his backup, freshman Adam Carriker, spelling him for long.

    "I never wanted him to sub in for me because if he subbed in for too long, he might take my position," Johnson said. "He was big back then. I think he was around 260 and strong as an ox. He played really well for us as a freshman."

    Johnson and Carriker are teammates once again, this time with the St. Louis Rams.

    Carriker is a rookie starter at nose tackle, while Johnson is a reserve defensive end fighting for a roster spot.

    "He is just a reliable, steady football player," Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said of Johnson. "He's smart. He's dependable. You know where he is going to be all the time. He does everything right. He's bulked up to play defensive end here, and we like him. He has a good shot of making our team."

    Johnson registered a sack on the first play of his first preseason game with the Rams. He tackled Minnesota quarterback Tarvaris Jackson for no gain on a third-and-9 play early in the second quarter of the Rams' 13-10 win over the Vikings on Saturday night.

    "Leonard (Little) had been getting a real nice pass rush off the edge, making the guy scramble up the middle. I had an idea that might happen again because he's a scrambling quarterback. I saw him took off, and I came back underneath and got him. It was pretty exciting my first play as a Ram to get a sack."

    Johnson nearly added an interception in the game on a pass by Vikings backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger in the third quarter.

    "By the time I turned my head around, the ball was in the air," Johnson said. "Initially, I just thought about tipping it and getting a pass breakup, but as it got closer, I realized I had a better chance of intercepting it. I've had a little taste of it, and I wish I could have had that one."

    Johnson had two interceptions in the New York Jets' 20-17 preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005. He played linebacker, not defensive end, for the Jets in that game.

    Johnson grew up in Lincoln, Neb., the son of Robert Johnson, a former three-time captain for the Huskers' wrestling team.

    "I was a huge Nebraska fan," Johnson said. "I was one of the more hard-core fans out there. I didn't have the opportunity to go to all the games. Maybe once a year. I either watched them on TV or listened to them on the radio with my dad."

    Johnson played tight end and defensive end at Lincoln Northeast High School. He caught 42 passes for 736 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior season.

    He was recruited as a tight end...
    -08-16-2007, 07:13 PM
  • RamWraith
    Johnson redeems himself 99 times--Holt questionable
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats

    No, Chris Johnson acknowledged, he had never heard of Tony Horne. So, he was informed that Horne was the most recent Rams player to take a kickoff to the end zone ... until, that is, Johnson raced 99 yards with the opening boot Sunday.

    "Oh, OK," Johnson said. "Each week I'm finding out different stuff."

    Horne dashed 103 yards against Atlanta on Oct. 15, 2000, at the Edward Jones Dome. The last time the Rams scored on the opening kickoff was Oct. 29, 1990, when Gaston Green went 99 yards at Pittsburgh.

    Johnson, 26, appears to have solved a problem area for the Rams, whose 19.1-yard average per kick return last year tied for last in the NFL. The week before, Johnson hauled back kicks 48 and 39 yards against the New York Giants. He's averaging 24.9 yards on 21 returns; the Rams' team average - 24.7 yards - ranks eighth in the league.

    "I feel real good," said Johnson, who also has seen significant time at cornerback. "I'm just blessed that the Rams believed I could still play."

    Johnson, 5-foot-11 and 198 pounds, was a seventh-round draft pick by Green Bay in 2003, but knee and leg injuries kept him on the sidelines for two years. Intrigued by Johnson's speed - he ran a blazing 4.18-second 40 at his pro day at Louisville - the Rams acquired him Sept. 3 for linebacker Robert Thomas, a former first-round choice.

    Johnson made his NFL regular-season debut Sept. 11 in the opener at San Francisco. It didn't start quite the way he had envisioned.

    Standing on the Monster Park turf, awaiting the initial kickoff of the season, Johnson nearly was overcome with emotion. "When I got out there, I was like, 'I finally made it,'" he said. A few seconds later, euphoria turned to embarrassment.

    An indecisive Johnson unwisely scooped up the ball, which was bouncing toward the end zone along the right sideline, and his momentum carried him out of bounds at the 1-yard line. So, the Rams started their first possession 99 yards from the end zone.

    Johnson returned those 99 yards Sunday. "It was just a great feeling," he said.

    Rams' road woes

    The Rams, who play at unbeaten Indianapolis on Monday night, have lost eight of their past 11 regular-season road games. In six of those setbacks, the Rams found themselves trying to claw their way out of an early hole.

    "When you're on the road, you've got to weather those storms," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "Every (opponent) is going to be good ... and it's up to the offense to keep scoring and keep the game close."

    This season, the Rams trailed 21-9 at the half at San Francisco (the ***** won 28-25) and 27-7 in the second quarter at New York (the Giants won 44-24).

    -10-13-2005, 05:03 AM
  • RamWraith
    New cornerback surprised by trade to Rams
    by RamWraith
    Johnson had backing of assistant coach

    ST. LOUIS - Being traded for a former first-round draft pick came as a compliment to cornerback Chris Johnson.

    The St. Louis Rams acquired Johnson from the Green Bay Packers on Saturday in exchange for linebacker Robert Thomas, the 31st overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft.

    "I really didn't know until last night," Johnson said of the fact that Thomas was a former first-rounder. "That made me feel pretty good."

    Johnson said the trade caught him by surprise. He expected to

    "I felt that I had at least one year there," Johnson said. "They let a lot of linebackers go, so they needed some linebackers. In the trade, that's what they got. I hope everything works out for them, and I know it's going to work out for me."

    Rams coach Mike Martz said Johnson was obtained on the recommendation of Rams secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer, who coached the defensive backs for the Packers last season.

    "In this situation, I solely relied on Kurt's opinion of him," Martz said. "Obviously, Kurt had great things to say about him. He thought he had terrific potential. He had some injury issues that we hope and think are cleared up at this point. He's still rough around the edges, but he's a competitive guy with a lot of ability who we think in short order can contribute for us."

    Johnson was a seventh-round pick by the Packers in the 2003 NFL draft. He missed the 2003 season after injuring his right knee in training camp after colliding with teammate Donald Driver. He suffered a stress fracture in his leg during an offseason workout in 2004, that hindered his return from the knee injury.

    Johnson was on the Packers' 53-man roster late last season, but he never played in a game.

    "I feel great right now," Johnson said. "My body is holding up like I want it to. I'm doing all my conditioning and strengthening stuff."

    Johnson has the kind of size (5-foot-11, 198 pounds) and speed (4.18 seconds in the 40-yard dash during a workout at the University of Louisville before the 2003 NFL draft) that ever team covets in its cornerbacks.

    "He's a tall guy with terrific speed and range," Martz said. "He's another one of those tall corners with the long speed that you are looking for when going against the big receivers you are going to find in our division."

    Johnson said having Schottenheimer and Rams free safety Michael Hawthorne, a former Packers teammate, around should speed up his learning curve with the Rams.

    "It helps a lot because he was one of my mentors at Green Bay," Johnson said of Hawthorne. "When I came in, I didn't know the playbook that well, and he breaks it down a little better....
    -09-06-2005, 11:25 AM