Redskins' sole man Johnson finds his footing

Jeron Johnson is rather proud of his impressive shoe collection. Now the sole man wants to show he's the best man for the Redskins' starting strong safety job.

Whether Air Jordan's or nightlife fashion or collector items like Kanye West's limited edition Nike's, Jeron Johnson fancies himself something of a sole man. We're talking a robust shoe collection topping 200 pairs, though the owner isn't quite sure of the actual head count. He's busy focusing elsewhere these days.

Other than a half-dozen prime picks, his personal footwear didn't make the trip to Richmond for his first training camp as a member of the Washington Redskins.

"I didn't want to do too much," Johnson said. "I'll be in cleats most of the time anyway."

For a 27-year-old defensive back aiming for his first starting job in the NFL, no other footwear truly matters for now. The sole man wants to prove that when it comes to the Redskins' strong safety position, he's the best man for the job.

Washington will enter this season with at least three new starters in the defensive backfield, including both safety slots. Johnson, signed as a free agent this offseason after spending four years with Seattle, and Duke Ihenacho are battling for the strong safety slot.

Ihenacho, played three games for the Redskins last year and primarily with the first unit during summer practices. Both assertive footballers are in the starter's mix.

"The best man is going to play. That's what I was told," Johnson said. "That's all I'm trying to, be the best that I can be. Everything else can work itself out."

Having multiple viable options, including free safety Dashon Goldson, is something the Redskins coaching staff didn't have at their disposal last season. Or the one before that or seemingly not since LaRon Landry started physically breaking down.

“We’re going to go out there and let them play," head coach Jay Gruden said of Johnson and Ihenacho. "Duke’s done a good job so far and those guys are going to line up and see what happens. We got a lot of candidates out there. ... Some of them can be in the box, they can in the hole, they can both play the hashes and play two-deep, they can play the quarters obviously.

"So we’ve got a lot of versatility out there with some experienced guys and it’ll be a good test for all of them.”

Johnson's role with the Seahawks during their two runs to the Super Bowl was far different. Like Johnson's shoe inventory, Seattle's secondary is loaded, including Pro Bowl safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. That limited the former Boise State product special teams and fill-in duties. That didn't diminish Johnson's desire for more.

"I never let it get to me when I was there in Seattle. I was there to compete for a spot on the roster. It wasn't a matter of starting there," he said. "I knew what was in front of me, that I had some great players in front of me. I just wanted to show if they go down, you guys can trust me and I'll be ready to play."

Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan saw enough to pursue the aggressive Johnson this offseason. McCloughan served as a senior personnel executive when Seattle signed the undrafted free agent in 2011.

For those unfamiliar with his game, Johnson provided a crib sheet.

"Toughness even though I'm a small player. Competitor. I just love the game. You can see it from my energy on the field. I just love the game."

Johnson adeptly verbalized his skill set when asked, but he's not about to lobby for the starting job.

"My play on the field. I want the film to show what I can do. I don't want to talk my way into a position. My play will determine if I'm the guy or not," the prideful Johnson stated.

Ask Johnson about a secret, non-football skill and his eyes light up.

"I have a great shoe collection...I give a lot way to family and friends, but right now I'd say about 200 (pairs)." As for which shoe earns the spotlight, Johnson singles out his Nike Air Yeezy's.(Kanye West's limited edition brand "before he left for Adidas.) "Those are the hardest to find. They're a $150 shoe, but you probably have to pay about $5,000 for them now."

The red Yeezy's didn't make the trip to Richmond. Sure, those shoes make a statement. For the kind Johnson wants to make, cleats work just fine.

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