Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson was on the field for 66 plays against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, which accounted for 97 percent of the offensive plays the Vikings ran. It was the first start of his career and the most playing time he has received, and more playing time than any other Vikings receiver had during the game.
The amount of reps that Johnson received was partially due to injuries suffered in the Vikings receiving corps – Greg Jennings (ribs) and Jarius Wright (hamstring) – but Johnson has also been having success when he has gotten playing time.
In Minnesota’s game against Chicago on Nov. 16, Johnson got to see the field a lot in the end of the game because of the injuries, and he seemed to have a good connection with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater – seven targets and six receptions for 87 yards.
That continuity and success did not seem to be present against the Packers, however, as Johnson was targeted a team-high 11 times but was only able to bring in three of them for 52 yards.
“We didn’t make the plays this week,” said Johnson. “We missed some plays. It’s the NFL, you ain’t going to make every play.
“There were three, four, five plays I could have made. Even the hardest catches, I want to make those plays. If I can make those plays for our quarterback and for our team, we are going to be successful.”
Even though Johnson feels as though he missed out on a lot of opportunities, there was one that he was able to capitalize on. He was able to come down with a 22-yard touchdown pass, his first touchdown, and the fact that it was against the team that drafted him just made the moment a little sweeter.
“It was pretty exciting for me, I’m not going to lie,” Johnson said. “I got to give thanks to the offensive line and Teddy (Bridgewater) for getting the ball to me. I wish we would have won; I would have rather had that.”
With Johnson making the most of the opportunities he is given, he is likely to continue with a significant role, even once players start getting healthy again. The veteran receivers have helped Johnson out a lot and taught him little tricks of the trade that he can use to help improve his game.
“I talk to Greg a lot man, and he told me something going into this game that I could set up some (defensive backs) with to get deep,” Johnson said. “I used it a couple times and it worked. I mean we didn’t get the shot that we wanted, but I talk to him a lot and he helps me out.”
Bridgewater has been impressed with the way Johnson has been able to step up and have success.
Of course, Johnson can always get better, and he is still making some mistakes while he is out there, and a lot of that is due to how young he still is. He is 25 years old but only has two years of experience, and last year he was injured with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
But as Johnson continues to work he will improve even more. He already has the natural speed to be a dangerous weapon in this league; now he just needs to continue to refine his abilities.
“I still think (Johnson) is a young receiver that is getting better,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s been here six or seven weeks now and hasn’t been through anything, so fortunate for him he was in the system (last year in Cleveland) so he has an understanding of how to do things.”
Johnson was placed on waivers by the Cleveland Browns to start the season and signed back to their practice squad. However, the Vikings signed him to their active roster after Week 2. To start his Vikings career, Johnson was the fifth receiver on the depth chart, and his rapid ascent wasn’t a given. If you ask Johnson, though, he would tell you this does not surprise him.
“I know what type of player I can be,” he said. “I know what type of player I am. It’s just all about opportunity, and hard work makes opportunity and creates your own success.”
WR Johnson creating his own opportunities
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