Charles Johnson has slowly seen his role with the Minnesota Vikings increase, and last week saw a total of 20 offensive plays from the wide receiver position.
Johnson was drafted out of Grand Valley State last year by the Green Bay Packers, then signed off their practice squad to the Cleveland Browns’ active roster. His time on the active roster did not last very long, however, as he was placed on the injured reserve with a non-football injury four days later.
The non-football injury was actually a torn ACL that he suffered while in Green Bay.
“When I came over from Green Bay, during my physical, they found out my ACL was torn,” said Johnson. “I had no clue, I had been playing on it so they listed it as non-football injury.”
Although his time there was short, it was helpful to still get time working with offensive coordinator Norv Turner in Cleveland because he brought Johnson over to Minnesota with him.
“It definitely showed me he was really interested in me as a player because he brought me to Cleveland and now over here to Minnesota,” Johnson said. “So I mean it really did help me.”
As his role has increased in Minnesota it seems to be apparent that the Vikings are trying to utilize him as a deep threat for more down-the-field passes. Although he and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater have not yet been able to connect, they have been close on multiple occasions.
In his 20 plays on offense Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bridgewater tried going deep to Johnson on three separate occasions. All of them fell incomplete, and Johnson actually had to fight his way back to one and break it up so the ball was not intercepted.
“The shots are going to come, we’re not going to make every play,” said Johnson. “The more we work together, the more I get comfortable, he gets comfortable. He’s young and I’m still young. This is actually really only my first year actually getting live reps, so I know I’m not doing everything right. The more we get together the better we can connect.”
You can see the two starting to work more and more together in practice. When Johnson steps up to the line, it is usually Bridgewater throwing him the ball. If they can build the chemistry together, they have a chance to score plenty of points.
As far as being considered the Vikings’ deep-threat receiver, Johnson is not sure if he is or not. He is just doing whatever he can to help out the team.
“I’m a fast guy and I’m able to get deep so they can get open on the shorter routes,” Johnson said. “Whatever the play call is I’m just trying to win on that play.
“My whole philosophy is I don’t want that other guy across from me stopping me, so whatever the play call is, I mean if it’s a deep route, and it’s called for me, I’m going to try to win on that play.”
So far, Johnson has won a few times, but the receptions – especially the deep receptions – haven’t come regularly yet. He has five catches for 47 yards on 11 targets, but none over 15 yards. Once he gets the chemistry going with Bridgewater, Johnson could be the deep threat the Vikings have been missing since Jerome Simpson was a factor last year.
WR Johnson’s role increasing
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