With all of the injuries facing the Patriots offense and the release of rookie receiver/returner Chris Harper, it was pretty obvious that Bill Belichick was going to be forced to make some personnel moves. He wasted no time finding someone to fill Harper's role, signing former Eagle and Texan Damaris Johnson, a speedy fourth year player out of Tulsa. After Johnson finished his career at Tulsa, he was signed as a rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles. Johnson had a promising rookie season, finishing the season with 19 catches for 256 yards and 26 punt returns for 291 yards and one touchdown.
His second and final year in Philadelphia wasn't even close to as good; Johnson was completely phased out of the offense, making two catches for 14 yards with zero touchdowns. Johnson didn't return punts in 2013, but he did return kicks, finishing the season with 17 returns for 441 yards, an average of 25.9 yards per return. Johnson signed with the Houston Texans during the 2014 offseason and he had a decent season; he finished his third NFL season with 31 catches, 339 yards and one touchdown. With the added playing time in the regular offense, Johnson was only used sparingly in the return game; he had nine punt returns for 54 yards and six kick returns for 136 yards.
Johnson's experience with the Texans is going to be a huge advantage for New England and is a major factor in signing him. He knows what the Patriots are trying to do offensively, and even with the quarterback issues in Houston last season, he still managed to have his best year. Now with Tom Brady throwing to him and the lack of legitimate targets Brady has to go to, Johnson has a chance to make an immediate impact within the offense, and with the lack of healthy returners on the roster, Johnson will also get plenty of opportunities to make plays on special teams.
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