Johnson went on to become one of the Packers' star performers during the 2003 training camp before injuring his right knee in a collision with wide receiver Donald Driver. Instead of being a regular contributor in the nickel defense, Johnson faced knee surgery and a stop on the season-ending injured reserve list.
Johnson appeared briefly in the 2004 minicamps before suffering a stress fracture in his right leg. That pushed Johnson onto the physically-unable-to-perform list, sidelining him by league rule for the first six weeks of the regular season.
Johnson returned to practice Oct. 20 after passing his physical. Wednesday was the deadline for the Packers to activate Johnson, place him on injured reserve again or release him. He fills the open spot left after the Packers waived safety Curtis Fuller last week.
"I know I've got a whole lot to bring out of me and a whole lot to show the coaches and the National Football League," Johnson said. "That's my main goal right now just to get out there and contribute to this team." He won't be contributing much, at least at the outset. With Al Harris healthy, first-round pick Ahmad Carroll starting, third-round pick Joey Thomas improving and Jason Horton a little more battle tested, Johnson will be the Packers' fifth cornerback. That means he most likely will not be on the 45-player game-day roster.
"If he has great progress this week, I guess that's a possibility," Packers coach Mike Sherman said of Johnson being the fifth corner. "But he still has a ways to go. As a fifth corner, he can help us if we had an injury."
The word injury is a dirty word for Johnson. He's just happy to finally be put on the roster after showing so much promise.
"I give my thanks to Coach Sherman and the other coaches, because evidently they saw something in me once I came back," Johnson said. "That's my main concern right now, just to get back strong and healthy again and help this team out."