Charles Johnson said his confidence in himself never waned as he came back from a broken rib this offseason that derailed his 2015 production. He showed that in Friday night’s game.
“Teddy put the ball up. I went up and got it. Got behind the defenders and we ended up connecting,” Johnson said. “It was exciting and we ended up winning the game, so that was good.”
It was the final play for the Vikings’ starters in the first preseason game and a good walk-off after the first series in which Bridgewater was pressured in each of the first three plays and sacked once.
But hitting on a deep pass like that should help keep defenses honest if the Vikings can continue to do that.
“I think it helps a lot being able to stretch the field. It makes guys not want to sit on us as easily and knowing that we’ve got some deep threats out there,” Johnson said. “We’re going to work on it, continue to build it and continue to progress. It’s just going to help us tremendously.”
Among the more than dozen Vikings that didn’t play in the preseason opener was Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s defending rushing champion. While most of those that didn’t play were working though injuries, Peterson was a healthy scratch against the Bengals and usually doesn’t play in preseason contests.
When he’s in the game, defenses often crowd the line of scrimmage hoping to limit Minnesota’s biggest offensive threat. In theory, that should give the receivers more opportunities to get open deep. Johnson believes his touchdown will give the Vikings’ first regular-season opponent, the Tennessee Titans, something additional think about when defending Minnesota.
“When we play the Tennessee Titans, they’re going to watch the preseason games because that’s what we do,” Johnson said. “They’re going to go out there and watch those, our recently played games. Some guys will discount it because it is the preseason and you’re not showing everything. But it’s still out there playing football. There’s still guys out there in the NFL, they’re still out there for a reason, they’re still great competitors.”
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With Johnson limited last year by injury, his 49-yard touchdown in the preseason opener was a good sign, but he said he didn’t need a confidence boost.
“My confidence has been here. I don’t know whose confidence needs to get back, maybe the people upstairs or something, but my confidence has been here,” Johnson said. “I’m going to continue to do what I do.”
If he continues to do what he did Friday night, it would be a good step for the Vikings’ passing game.