Johnson caught a break on October 9, 2001; out of football for nearly fourteen months, he received another chance in the NFL. The Chicago Bears signed Johnson to return punts and act as a back-up running back, in place of the recently departed Glyn Milburn who was placed on waivers. Johnson found himself in a crowded backfield consisting of the NFL's offensive rookie of the year Anthony Thomas, and the Bears leading rusher of the 2000 season James Allen. A quality backup in his own right, Johnson competed in practice and earned a spot returning kicks and punts, along with accepting a few handoffs a game.
Johnson burst onto the Bears scene on a Sunday night in Minnesota in late November, on a crucial third down and one yard. The "A-Train", Anthony Thomas went to the sidelines for a quick breather and Johnson took the handoff went for a 34-yard touchdown run increasing a Bears lead, which they sustained throughout the rest of the game. The Bears and Leon Johnson snuck out of the Metrodome with a 13-6 victory. Johnson earned his position as the "third down and short back", picking up first downs on a consistent basis on third and short during the second half of the season.
Johnson, the man who battled back from two knee injuries and fourteen months out of football, finished the season contributing in twelve games for the Bears, taking 20 handoffs for 99 yards and scoring four touchdowns. Johnson's style of play fits in perfectly with the Bears ground attack and he should see an increased role in the offense in the 2002 season.