Colts Q&A With Charlie Johnson

Earlier this week, Colts rookie offensive lineman Charlie Johnson talked to ColtPower's Ed Thompson about his Giants game experience, the Texans and Jaguars, how Howard Mudd and Tarik Glenn have helped him, the pass attempt to him in his rookie debut and much more!

Ed Thompson: What did the Colts tell you that they liked about you after they selected you and you arrived in Indy?

Charlie Johnson: They said they liked the fact that I had played tight end and that I was athletic for my size. I guess they just liked the way I played football.

ET: Since offensive line coach Howard Mudd started working with you, what specific things have you learned that you feel have had the biggest impact on how you play your position?

CJ: I feel like the biggest thing is learning how to be patient with my blocks. Before I got here, my mentality was to just go get on the guy and be as physical as possible. I quickly learned, going against the guys we have, that doesn't work. The game is a lot faster, the guys are a lot faster, and it's better competition. I've learned to be patient and actually use all of my angles and use everything that Howard's taught us.

ET: When was the first time you had to line up with Dwight Freeney across from you?

CJ: That actually didn't happen until about a week into training camp. We were doing team stuff and Tarik Glenn had lost a contact and I had to go out there. I only got one play, but luckily I had some help coming behind me -- that kind of helped. It was an unreal experience; that was my first time being in the huddle with the first team offense and that seemed unreal at the time.

ET: Did Freeney say anything to welcome you on that first play?

CJ: No, it was one of those deals where we weren't in a huddle and they were trying to get lined up (we were already lined up) so he didn't really have time to say anything, but I'm sure his eyes got big when he saw a rookie in front of him.

ET: Let's talk a little bit about your opening game. You were on national television, what was going through your head when you came out of the tunnel in New York and you realized "I'm really here, I've really made it"?

CJ: It really didn't seem real because just a year before that time I was getting ready to play my first game in my senior year in college and in that short amount of time I went to being on Sunday Night Football, being in "The Manning Bowl", and being in Giants stadium. But there was also a feeling of accomplishment because I've worked so hard to get here and it was like "the time is here". It was really kind of humbling to think about this being one of my goals as long as I've been playing football, and I was actually there being a part of it.

ET: Were you surprised when the Colts brought in a couple free agents and they sent an offensive lineman down to the practice squad that it was Michael Toudouze who ended up being moved off the roster at that point or did you have a pretty good feeling that you were doing well at that point?

CJ: I didn't know how they felt about Michael or his progress, but I had a good feeling that I was doing well. Howard Mudd told me I was doing well and I guess during our OTAs this summer he said that I was going to be a guy that if anything were to happen, they were going to count on me to play. So I went into training camp with that mindset that if something happens I'm going to be a guy to help this team. When all of the roster moves were made I wasn't really surprised that I had made it. I just figured that the organization knew what they were doing and that they had confidence in me.

ET: Did you have any idea at all that you were going to get to play in the game against New York?

CJ: Yeah, I was a starter on the kickoff return team and I knew I was going to be in on the goal line. So I knew coming in that those would be situations where I'd be on the field. And we only took seven linemen, so if someone were to get hurt or go down for any other reason, I knew I'd go in and play.

ET: On the play where Peyton Manning threw a bullet pass to you in the end zone, was that a play designed where you're the primary receiver or were you just one of his secondary options?

CJ: I'm really not sure who else is out on routes on that play, but it's one we've practiced and I got some looks at training camp.

ET: When they called that play in the huddle, did your eyes light up at all?

CJ: A little bit. Just knowing I was going to be out on a route was just exciting -- being in on the route and being an option.

ET: Did Peyton say anything to you after the play didn't result in a score?

CJ: (laughs) I remember we came back in the huddle and as I came back he said "Charlie, man, you're messing up my completion percentage. You've got to make that play." But he said it with a smile on his face. Everybody got a good laugh out of it.

ET: How much of a role is Tarik Glenn playing in your development?

CJ: He's been really important because Howard says things to help us out, but for me personally I like to see things happening. To be able to sit back and watch a player who is the caliber of Tarik Glenn is really helpful. He's a Pro Bowl player and to see how he works and see the techniques he uses to be successful is really helpful to me because I can take what I see and try to integrate that into my play to try and make me better.

ET: Which Houston defensive lineman did you expect to give you guys the most trouble. And based on the game film, did he? Or was it someone else?

CJ: What we were saying, going into the game, was that they were definately an improved team; especially on defense. In their front seven they have four or five first- and second-round draft picks, so obviously they're talented. We felt as the offensive line that it wasn't just one guy, it was the whole front that would give us problems. They have the number one draft pick this year, Mario Williams, and I think they had a first-round pick from last year as a starting defensive tackle. And they brought in a couple veteran guys to rotate in. We had a lot of respect for their front coming in from watching previous game tapes and seeing how hard they played, so we thought that if we didn't play well, that whole front would give us trouble. Looking at the tape there were times where their whole defensive front gave us trouble, but the offensive line played really well and we were able to kind of control and dictate what they did.

ET: Speaking of defensive fronts, you have a tough one coming in with the Jaguars; have you guys started talking about them at all yet?

CJ: We talked very briefly about it today. They basically have the same guys as years past; two big-time defensive tackles in Stroud and Henderson. And Meier and Spicer are really good players. This being my first time to see them, I came away impressed and I know the older lineman here have a lot of respect for their defensive front.

ET: Who are some of the players that you've established friendships with over the last few months? Who would we likely find you hanging out with?

CJ: One of them would be Michael Toudouze. We've been able to take everything in together, we're both new, we're going through the same things, and we play the same position so we get together and figure things out together. (QB) Josh Betts, another rookie, we all came in together and just started talking when we first came in this summer. We all hang out together. They'll come over to my place or I'll go hang out with them after practice you know…just being a couple rookies all together.

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