Charles Johnson may have been the Minnesota Vikings’ biggest surprise during the 2014 season. He was originally a seventh-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers, placed on the practice squad, picked up by the Cleveland Browns, placed on the injured reserve with an ACL tear he was initially unaware of, placed on their practice squad, and then picked up by the Vikings.
When he finally arrived in Minnesota last year, he began at the bottom of the team’s depth chart but he was quickly able to work his way up it. At 6-foot-2, 217 pounds, he has good size that complements his ability to stretch the field.
It quickly became evident that Johnson had the potential to be a very good NFL receiver and he became quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s No. 1 target toward the end of the 2014 season. During the dog days of summer, a lot of people had him pegged as a breakout player for the 2015 season.
Johnson could also sense that he had a golden opportunity in front of him to have a big year and he wants to make sure he is ready. He has been doing everything he could to improve his game, even working out with Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald.
“It was great. He’s one of the best in the league and he’s been doing it for years now,” Johnson said. “It was good to be able to go out there and work with him a little bit and just watch how he goes about his business and how he’s been so successful over the years.”
The Vikings receiver originally met Fitzgerald at one of Greg Jennings’ golf outings. His financial advisor is also familiar with the camp and Fitzgerald, so Johnson was eventually able to work it to where he could join the Cardinals receiver.
He was originally supposed to attend last year as well, when he was in Cleveland, but he was not able to make it. Now he figured since he is in Minnesota anyways there was no reason why he would not be able to make it out there and participate in the camp.
One of the biggest things that Johnson had worked on this offseason was his route running. Johnson would struggle from time to time when he was forced to compete for a ball with a defender. For that reason, he wanted to get more precise with his route running so he could create more separation.
“I became more detailed in my route running,” he said. “That’s one of the key things for me; I like to gain a lot of separation on my routes.”
Another area of his game that he really focused on was his concentration. Johnson sometimes relies on his good hands too much and would not watch the ball all the way in, and that would lead to more drops than he was willing to accept.
“A lot of times, as receivers, we drop balls because of concentration and not keeping our eyes and following it all the way in,” he said. “That’s a thing with me being so confident in my hands, I tend to look away before it hits and you’ll have drops like that.”
Johnson is currently slated in as one of the team’s starting receivers, along with Mike Wallace, but that is by no means set in stone. There is a lot of talent and depth at the wide receiver position for the Vikings so he is going to have to continue to work hard to prove he deserves the opportunity in front of him.
WR Johnson worked specifics with Fitzgerald
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