“My head was running everywhere,” Johnson said, in describing the transition to the professional game.
Considering his first NFL assignment, understanding Johnson’s perspective becomes a bit simpler. Johnson received a trial-by-fire introduction to the NFL as a rookie, as he was tasked with defending Detroit’s Calvin Johnson—the league’s leading receiver in 2012—in his first professional game.
The veteran receiver grabbed six passes for 111 yards against Johnson and the Rams that day, but the second-year cornerback made quick progress in the weeks following that not-so-typical initiation. In his fourth game, he grabbed in first career interception to help key a 19-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks. He completed his rookie season with two interceptions and eight passes defensed in 16 games, including three starts.
Under the tutelage of secondary coach Chuck Cecil, Johnson’s game has quickly advanced after taking over for an injured
Johnson, who has started 11 of the Rams’ 15 games in his second year, has posted career-bests in nearly every statistical category. His three interceptions are a team-best, and has shown a penchant for creating the key turnover, a knack he exemplified with a red zone interception of Drew Brees in the first quarter of the Rams’ 27-16 win over New Orleans on Dec. 15. He also hauled in a red zone interception in the Rams’ 38-8 win over Indianapolis in Week 10.
“He’s come around (and) he’s got a much better feel,” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said. “Technique’s much improved over last year. He’s anticipating things and he’s got two huge red zone stops for us.”
Johnson is part of a youthful secondary that includes second year players
“We’re young right now, but we’re coming in together,” Johnson said. “I know those guys, what they can do, and now we can build off of it.”