Six Points With Colts OT Charlie Johnson

Ed Thompson talked to Colts rookie offensive tackle Charlie Johnson about the team's rebound performance against the Bengals, not letting up against Houston, and what it's like to be part of "the wedge" on kickoff returns in this exclusive interview.

Ed Thompson: Monday night you looked like the Colts of old. What do you think happened and what did you see during the week that made such a great difference for the offense?

Charlie Johnson: I think the biggest difference was that we just refocused. I think the loss against Jacksonville was actually a blessing in disguise. That loss gave us the sense of what could happen if we didn't get focused and play the way we know we can play. So last week at practice we got back on the details and focused on the little things that make us successful.

ET: What are some of those little things that the coaching staff can bring out that gets you guys focused to that level of detail?

CJ: Just little things like more throwing and catching -- catching more balls at practice. For the offensive line, just going back over assignments and really knowing who you have. Coach Dungy is always telling us that when we know who we have and know how to go about handling that, we're pretty successful. So it was just going back and redefining our footwork, working on double-teams, working on pass stunts, just stuff that you take for granted. But when you do, you're not as successful as you could be.

(Getty Images/Ronald Martinez)
ET: This week you have Houston, who is really struggling, how do you guys keep yourself from slipping and overlooking a team like them?

CJ: I think the biggest point is that as a team we got back on track last week against Cincinnati. And our big deal is if we're going to get back on track, this is the perfect time in the season to do it. We've clinched our division so we know we're going to be in the playoffs. So now we want to get on a roll and win these last two games of the regular season heading into the playoffs. Also, who knows what could happen. San Diego might drop a game here and there and then we're back at the top for home field advantage, so that's another thing to keep us going.

ET: Talk a bit about the special teams units you're on, where you're currently lining up and your roles…

CJ: I'm on the kickoff return team and I'm in "the wedge" -- the group of big guys who come back and get together in front of the returner. We're usually the ones who are making some big blocks for him. I'm also on the field goal team. I'm out on the wing -- we have the front five guys then I'm on the end and back a bit to protect the edge so no one comes around the corner to block the field goal. Recently I've gotten in on the short-yardage package which is maybe third-and-one or third-and-two. We'll put in a package where we'll use a two-back, two-tight end set-up and I've been playing the tight end spot there for blocking purposes. If we get on the goal line, I'll play tight end on the goal line. That's where I'll be unless an injury happens to our offensive line.

ET: Who else is usually back there in the wedge with you?

CJ:It's usually me and (DT) Darrell Reid and, as of recently, it's been (OG) Dylan Gandy in the three-man wedge.

ET: So it's usually a matter of your size versus these slightly smaller guys who have built up a bunch of speed … and you see who wins the battle.

CJ: It really is. The people in the wedge, we're taking on guys who have had a 40 to 50-yard head start. And some teams have guys they designate as "wedge busters" and their job is to go down there and hit the wedge as hard as they can and take out as many guys as they can. It's definitely a job for some bigger people and you have to have an attitude about it, because you know he's going to try to hit you as hard as he can. You need to build up as much speed as you can. And before he hits you, you've got to try to go hit him -- and most of the time it's just one big collision. A lot of people don't want to do it because it's a hard job, but for me it's another way to get on the field, so I'm trying to do it the best that I can for the team.

Scout NFL Network Top Stories