McMahon Thinks Johnson Could Help Him

Sixth-year quarterback Mike McMahon thinks a chance to play under Brad Johnson could help him harness his skills. McMahon signed with the Vikings Thursday and was honest in his assessment of his career to this point.

Mike McMahon stood tall and gave an honest assessment of his skills.

"(Calming down) is what I've got to work on," the quarterback said after visiting with the Vikings coaching staff. "In the years past I've been moving around a little bit. I'd like to come in and watch how Brad Johnson does things a little bit and learn."

The Vikings signed McMahon to compete for the No. 2 spot behind starter Brad Johnson, but McMahon's career numbers after four seasons in Detroit and one year in Philadelphia aren't exactly Pro Bowl material in his limited opportunities.

He has only a 44.5 completion percentage, 15 touchdowns and 21 interceptions — a 55.1 passer rating. But McMahon wasn't trying to shy away from those numbers. Instead, he opted for the refreshingly honest answer and talked further about the possibilities of learning from a veteran like Johnson.

"Over the years, I've sometimes seemed to force some throws on third-down situations when you can check it down and punt or you just trust the backs to get the yards," McMahon said. "Brad is very good at hitting the checkdowns and playing it a little safer, and he moves the ball down the field a little slower. Donovan is more of the big-play guy. I tend to take too many chances, and maybe playing behind Brad … might make me calm down a little bit and make better decisions on the field and therefore raise the completion percentage."

One advantage McMahon has coming into the Vikings offense is familiarity. He already knows head coach Brad Childress offense from last year, when McMahon was starting seven games in Philadelphia for an injured Donovan McNabb and Childress was the offensive coordinator.

Those November and December games were a struggle, however, as McMahon managed five touchdowns and eight interceptions in the Eagles' swoon.

"You get little opportunities and sometimes you have to make the most out of them," McMahon said. "It's not the best situation you want to be in — we had a lot of injuries. (Wide receiver Todd) Pinkston was out all year and of course Terrell (Owens) was gone. And then of course (Brian) Westbrook went down and basically the entire offensive line. So it wasn't the best situation, but it was an opportunity. I think you have to learn if you get an opportunity to play."

McMahon also knows a little about new Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson from playing with him at the Senior Bowl before each came into the league in 2001, and former Detroit teammate Jeff Backus also played with Hutchinson at Michigan and gave a favorable review to McMahon. The quarterback also has spent a little time with Vikings receiver Koren Robinson when they were together at a rookie symposium.

While McMahon likely will compete with J.T. O'Sullivan for the No. 2 job, it's possible those two will also be in a battle for employment since the Vikings are expected to seriously examine the quarterback possibilities in the draft. With a first-day draft selection at quarterback, that likely would leave four quarterbacks on the roster with only three roster spots available, making for some good competition for the backup role behind Johnson.

McMahon isn't sure how that would affect him.

"It depends on where they would draft a guy. Being in Detroit when they drafted a first-rounder wasn't the best situation in the world to be in, but it depends if I can get a deal done — will they draft a guy higher or will they draft a guy lower," he said.

For now, learning from Johnson is his main objective.

"Getting an opportunity to learn from Brad Johnson is a great opportunity. … He has many years of experience under his belt. I definitely think I can learn from him," McMahon said. "I got a lot from Donovan, but with Brad he's a little bit older and I think he plays a little bit more conservative, which I definitely think can help me and my career in the long run."

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