Cornerback on the mend

With Mike McKenzie's return to the Packers uncertain, the door of opportunity is wide open for second-year pro Chris Johnson. But whether Johnson can get back up to his blazing speed after suffering a season-ending injury last season in training camp is a big question.<p>

Johnson showed off his speed during camp last season and quickly became a legitimate backup. But he collided with wide receiver Donald Driver during a practice last August and missed the team's final two preseason games.

At the time, team doctors felt Johnson suffered a badly bruised right knee, but it turned out to be a torn patella tendon and he was placed on injured reserve.

Johnson underwent surgery on his knee last fall. He began running on it in mid-March and feels that it is about 95 percent recovered. He did not participate in Green Bay's post-draft mini-camp and probably will sit out of the upcoming June mini-camp.

Johnson says that he should be 100 percent when training camp opens.

"I have a little pain left, but I haven't run on my knee since August," Johnson said. "When you put something in the closet for a long time, and when you pull it out in the first couple of weeks, it's not going to work the same way it worked before. That's why I'm doing all the rehab and lifting and everything. Probably in about two more weeks, I'll be back to 100 percent."

Johnson has remained in Green Bay this off-season to participate in the team's 14-week workout program.

Johnson ran a 40-yard dash of 4.18 seconds during an individual workout last spring at the University of Louisville. It was uncertain at the time of his injury on if Johnson would be able to make a complete recovery, but the second-year pro will quickly tell you that's not the case.

"I have no doubt that I won't get back because I know I will," Johnson said.

Johnson's main competition for the top nickel and dime position (first cornerback off the bench on a passing down) will be top draft picks Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas, and Bhawoh Jue.

Michael Hawthorne started in McKenzie's spot during the team's post-draft mini-camp. Johnson climbed to second on the depth chart behind McKenzie last year during training camp, then was injured.


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