Fullback in action

Looking for more blocking from the fullback position, the Bears traded a sixth-round draft choice to the Redskins for four-year veteran Bryan Johnson.

Although the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Johnson has just three carries for 5 yards and 33 receptions for 314 yards since signing with the Redskins in 2000 as an undrafted free agent, he is expected to go to training camp as No. 1 on the Bears' depth chart. He will be challenged by incumbent starter Stanley Pritchett, who carried 21 times for 93 yards last season. But the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Pritchett averaged just 4.6 yards on 18 receptions last season and the 30-year-old eight-year veteran is not considered an exceptional lead blocker, although he is a more effective ball carrier.

Johnson, 26, was a restricted free agent who signed a four-year, $4.1 million offer sheet, including a $2.1 million cap hit this year, from the New Orleans Saints. But the Redskins matched, hoping to get something in return for Johnson, who was a linebacker and the leading tackler in his final three seasons at Boise State after converting from fullback and tight end. As a senior, Johnson played with Bears running back Brock Forsey, who was a freshman at Boise State in 1999.

Johnson played in all 48 games for the Redskins the past three years and started 23 in the last two seasons. He was also a standout special-teams player the past three seasons, with 23 tackles in 2001, 21 in 2002 and 20 last season.


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