Corner Back

Zamel Johnson recovered from one shoulder surgery to develop into a key member of the secondary last season. He believes his recuperation from a second shoulder surgery in January will enable him to be one of the Owls' starting cornerbacks this year as he should be healthy for the season.

Zamel Johnson recovered from one shoulder surgery to develop into a key member of the secondary last season.

He believes his recuperation from a second shoulder surgery in January will enable him to be one of the Owls' starting cornerbacks this year as he should be healthy for the season.

"I'm on good pace," said Johnson, who missed the spring after having a torn labrum in his left shoulder repaired. "At the end of spring, I finished my rehab and in the summer I was out there doing position drills, footwork, pad level, things like that. I was trying not to lose it, so when I did come out here for training camp, I'm where I should be, so I'm on pace for that."

A Staten Island native, Johnson had his first shoulder surgery after high school and sat out his only season at Hofstra. At the end of the year, Hofstra dropped its program and a healthy Johnson made his way to Temple, where he has played in 24 games and made nine starts the last two seasons.

But Johnson re-injured his left shoulder in practice for the second game of the 2011 season against Akron and played through the pain. He was needed to play a key role as Anthony Robey — who projects to start with Johnson at corner this year — was out several weeks with a sprained ankle.

"Basically I played through it all of last season and finished the season out for the team," said Johnson.

Temple head coach Steve Addazio said Johnson and the other players who missed out on spring drills are still trailing their teammates, but that isn't surprising.

"It's only natural when you come back off an injury, it takes a while to get your confidence back," said Addazio. "It just takes a while."

And while Johnson might not be at peak form yet, he feels he is close, and with the experience of nine starts under his belt is more comfortable with his spot on the team. Despite being limited, he finished with 28 tackles, two pass breakups and an interception in 2011.

"It was a tough rehab, I was trying to get that range of motion back and building up strength around the muscle, so it could basically be stable," said Johnson. "It feels good, out there running around, banging. The first time I was banging it was sore, but that's to be expected. Right now, I still get treatment on it but it feels good.

"I feel comfortable. One of the main things between training camp last year and training camp this year is me being comfortable with the ones and knowing the defense and knowing how the offense is going to attack you. It's just more of a comfort thing."

Johnson said he has also become comfortable with defensive coordinator Chuck Heater's aggressive style, which frequently counts on the corners to cover one-on-one.

"It's a challenge, but playing football, playing sports period, you have to embrace challenges," said Johnson. "It might be a lot of pressure, but no pressure no diamonds, that's just the way I look at it."

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