Last year no one Giant exemplified Jerry Reese's superb 2007 draft class better than seventh-round pick Michael Johnson. A safety out of Arizona not taken until the 224th overall pick, Johnson responded with five starts, 36 tackles and four pass break-ups. This offseason it was basically a foregone conclusion that he'd lose his starting spot to first-round pick Kenny Phillips. But Johnson would have none of it. And Tom Coughlin said he wasn't surprised in the least.
"He demonstrated a year ago that he was a physical force; a physical presence, whether it was special teams or whether it was on defense," Coughlin said. "He earned that right (to start) and played right down through the stretch. As I have always said, having the more quality football players allows you to have some flexibility. And that is what those safeties allow us to have."
Read on as Johnson shares his exclusive TGI diary.
I feel pretty good so far. I'm comfortable with the positions I've been playing. I'm basically just stepping in and playing wherever they need me to play.
When your team drafts a first-rounder (Kenny Phillips), you know we have to put the first-rounder on the field. We have to put him on the field and find space for me and him. We're all just going to ball. We're going to put the best players on the field and let it all pan out that way.
The thought process of having to hold onto my job certainly crossed my mind after Kenny was drafted. But that was a long time ago. I'm 24 years old; I'm a grown man now. We're all grown men in here. We have good players all over the secondary, all across the board. We're looking for room to put all our players on the field. We have Kevin Dockery, a backup corner. We're always trying to get him on the field as well. If we had room for nine DBs we'd put them all out there.
Then you look at Aaron Ross. We have two straight number one picks in our secondary. We have lockdown corners and I love it. It means that I don't have to make up for them as much. There are a lot of times when the safety is high over the corner and if the corner messes up the safety has to take over for them. But a lot of the times, the safeties are able to free up more because the corners can lock it down like they do.
I was a seventh-round pick but I really don't look or pay much attention to where people were taken in the draft or even if they were undrafted. You see a lot of people succeed that were lower picks or not picked at all. Just look at Jessie Armstead. He wasn't even taken until the eighth round, which doesn't even exist anymore. And he balled out. He was a great linebacker. There are a lot of cases like that.
When Gibril (Wilson) signed with Oakland, I knew we lost a good safety, but also that someone now has to step up and take over his role. I just have to get in there and make plays when the plays come to me. I just have to be all over the field if I can.
I'm just a lot more comfortable this year. Coming into training camp this year, everything looked familiar and everything sounded familiar, so that made everything a lot easier. When that happens it helps you move around. When you don't have to think as much, it allows you to move a lot faster out there.
As far as the team, there's been a really big leap from last year to this year as far as players bonding and hanging out together. Everyone knows each other and talks to each other a lot more now. We're definitely becoming a more cohesive team, especially on the defensive side.
In Spags' defense we all have to be able to play both safety spots. The free and strong spots have different techniques. There are so many techniques and differences between those two positions that you really can't even put your finger on them. But we should be able to detail our techniques and be able to play either one of them. At this point, since I've been doing it since last year, it is pretty easy to flip from one side to the other.
Our secondary is definitely a pretty confident bunch. The key is to stay confident and not allow ourselves to get complacent. If that's the case, we'll be as high as the sky. We'll be good.
Personally, I'm not really one to set goals. I'm just trying to play ball and win games. That's all it is. The goal is the ‘W' every week. As for our defense, we've been talking about being a top five or top three defense.
Player Diary: Michael Johnson
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