Cornerback hobbled again

Chris Johnson has suffered yet another setback in his pro career. The speedy cornerback again was watching from the sideline as his teammates practiced in the recent post-draft mini-camp. Johnson, a seventh-round selection by the Packers in the 2003 NFL Draft, has yet to play in a regular season game.

Johnson said at the recent mini-camp that he suffered a recurrence of the stress fracture in his left leg that kept him off the field last season.

"I don't think it really healed last time and I came off of it a little bit too early and I kind of re-irritated it," Johnson said. "So I'm taking more inputs on it. I'm taking more calcium. I wasn't taking enough calcium in my body before and my bones weren't healing right, so I'm doing different things now and hopefully by June 1, the next mini-camp, I'll be able to come out and start competing again."

During training camp in 2003, Johnson suffered a right knee injury in a practice collision with wide receiver Donald Driver. The injury (patellar tendon) caused him to land on season-ending injured reserve. As he rehabbed his knee during the off-season of 2004, he suffered a stress fracture of the tibia (the larger of the two bones) in his lower left leg. Johnson was placed on the team's physically unable to perform list and returned to practice on Oct. 20. He was activated to the 53-man roster on Nov. 10, but was never activated to the 45-man game day roster.

Providing Johnson can return, he faces an uphill battle to make the roster. Fifth-round draft pick, Mike Hawkins, who is just as fast if not faster than Johnson got off to a good start in the post-draft mini-camp. Hawkins, who was consistently timed in the 4.2 range for the 40-yard draft in pre-draft workouts, had a couple of interceptions in the mini-camp and caught the eye of coaches.

Second-year pros Joey Thomas and Jason Horton also will be in competition for the backup spots behind starting cornerbacks Al Harris and Ahmad Carroll. Second-round pick Nick Collins, who was drafted as a safety, could be used in the team's passing defenses. Same with fourth-round pick Marviel Underwood.

Defensive coordinator Jim Bates indicated that he will determine his "nickel package" defensive back during the June mini-camp. But there is a chance that Johnson may not be able to participate in the June mini-camp because of the problems he is having with his left leg.


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