On paper, Brad Johnson, a 14-year veteran with a Super Bowl ring, is the ultimate backup quarterback. But some training camp observers are starting to question whether Johnson's arm is still good enough to play in the NFL.
Johnson has had some decent throws, but he also has had some weak floaters that no-name defenders have picked off.
One such pass came during a team drill in which Johnson tried to throw a 15-yard out pass to rookie Troy Williamson. The ball was so slow in getting there that rookie free agent Laroni Gallishaw easily stepped in front of it and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown.
Johnson led Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl title three years ago. But he's 5-15 since then and hasn't started since being benched following Tampa Bay's 0-4 start last season.
"That," Johnson said, "was a team that blew a lot of games for a lot of different reasons."
Johnson says his arm is as good as it was when the Bucs won the Super Bowl. Vikings quarterbacks coach Rich Olson agrees.
"Brad doesn't throw it like Daunte Culpepper," Olson said. "But he can make all the throws required in this offense. We wouldn't have to change a thing if we have to turn to Brad."
Johnson, whose career started with the Vikings as a 227th overall pick in 1992, returned this year as a free agent. It's the first time in nine years that he's entering a season as a backup.
Offensive coordinator/line coach Steve Loney doesn't worry about Johnson's arm strength. He also believes Johnson is the perfect fit for the team and for Culpepper.
"Brad's a Super Bowl quarterback and a Super Bowl person," Loney said. "He's great for the chemistry of the team because he understands and accepts his role behind Daunte."
In his defense, Johnson competed eight of 10 passes for 119 yards in the team's first intra-squad scrimmage.
CAMP CALENDAR: Intra-squad passing scrimmage, 8:30-9:30 p.m., Aug. 9, Minnesota State, Mankato Stadium; Intra-squad passing scrimmage, 8-9:30 p.m., Aug. 16, Minnesota State, Mankato Stadium.
Does Johnson Still Have The Arm?
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