Coach Patterson on Chase Johnson: "Tough"

Every time you think the Chargers have stability at the center position, they pull the hub right out from under you. First they inked Cory Raymer to a long-term deal, but knee injuries derailed those plans. The team found his replacement in undrafted steal Jason Ball, but then he went and staged the dumbest holdout this side of Reuben Droughns. That opened the door for Nick Hardwick, but it remains to be seen if the revolving door is done spinning.

One person who would like to see at least one more rotation is Chase Johnson, a six-foot-two, 293 lb. rookie center the Chargers signed out of Texas Christian University. There he was coached by Gary Patterson, a much-respected instructor who believes Johnson has what it takes to capitalize on any and all opportunities thrown his way.

"There were some injury problems he had, but I think that just showed he is a very tough player," Patterson said. "He played at about 80 percent all year because of an ankle injury he was dealing with, and he still had an all-conference performance."

It was that kind of resilient attitude which earned Johnson so much respect at TCU. His coaches obviously respected his game, as he was a four-year starter in their program. His teammates, too, respected him greatly, as he was a member of the team's leadership council.

While he was respected off of the field, he earned that respect on the gridiron. He has shown an undeniable passion for the game, and that is easily recognizable to anyone who watches him play.

"You have to have a certain temperament to make it in the NFL, and I think he has that," boasted Patterson.

Even still, the road to NFL stardom is an uncertain path. That is why Coach Patterson gave Johnson a bit of advice before he embarked on his professional journey.

"I told him, ‘Just make yourself different.' You have to be more special than the guy you're competing with," Patterson said. "You need to put in the work and outlast the competition."

With the aforementioned advice in hand, Johnson has set out to make a name for himself and to make the team in the process. That may seem unlikely when looking in from the outside, but Coach Patterson sees nothing not to like from his insider's perspective.

"He's a tough, physical player. He has a good attitude and he's very athletic," Patterson said proudly.

Maybe that will be enough to earn Johnson a spot on the team, and maybe it won't. Maybe he'll get released in the first round of cuts, or just maybe that revolving door has one last unexpected spin to make.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at Lombardo at

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