The Detroit Lions lost Kerryon Johnson to a knee injury this week, and they have a ton of uncertainty behind him at running back now set to take on a bigger role on the roster.
It’s only uncertainty if you don’t believe in Ty Johnson, however. Clearly Johnson has none of these feelings about himself or his own level of play. Though he’s merely a rookie and a late round draft pick out of Maryland at that, Johnson is brimming with confidence as he prepares to take on a much bigger role with the Lions, who are now down their top running back.
“Whenever they call my number I’ll be ready to go,” Johnson said honestly when asked by the media about his feelings. “Whatever coach Bevell wants, I’m sure the running back group and I, we’re going to pound away, we’re going to get in the film room, we’re going to be on the practice field doing extra, we’re going to do everything in our room extra to make sure we have success on the field.”
Now that he is more than a few months into the job, Johnson sees things slowing down more than a bit and is starting to feel better about the game and his position on the field.
“Pretty comfortable. It’s just that the game is starting to slow down a little bit,” Johnson said. “Being able to slow things down mentally, what the defenses are doing, and having coaches, guys like Kerryon and J.D. (McKissic) in my ear talking about certain fronts and certain pressures. Having those guys in my ear at all times have definitely been a big help.”
The other Johnson, in fact, already had some words for the new group after he went down.
“He just texted us all in a group saying he was proud of us going in there and handling the way we did. He’s happy and proud to be in the running back room we have now. Just a very positive text,” Johnson said of Kerryon’s response.
While he’s excited to take over the role for the time being, Johnson explains that’s not unique, as anyone in his position would feel the same way.
“I feel like that’s any guy. There’s always going to be that level. At the end of the day, it’s about if my number is called, if they want to utilize me or any of the running backs, when that comes, it will come,” he said.
Paul Perkins Joins Roster
The Lions added Johnson some help when they elevated Paul Perkins to the roster on Wednesday from the practice squad.
A tough runner out of UCLA, Perkins is a guy who has shown an ability to make some plays and grind out yards before, even if he hasn’t done it consistently in the NFL to this point in time. With the Giants, Perkins has seen some playing time and has run for 546 total NFL yards while catching 23 passes for 208 yards as a receiver. Those are not dynamic numbers associated with a break out, but clearly, the Lions believe Perkins can help them in the short term given the injury chaos at running back.
At the very least, Perkins is a young 24 years old, and brings a little bit of NFL experience with him to the role. Perkins was way more productive in college, with 29 touchdowns and 3,488 yards while playing for the Bruins.
Most would figure Johnson to get plenty of carries, but Perkins has the experience to spell him when need be.
Another Move Needed?
While Johnson might be feeling confident, the fact of the matter is, depth is poor currently at running back, and the team could use another move to help themselves out. There’s plenty of options on the market, including one of the biggest names that could make sense for the team in Melvin Gordon.
Detroit isn’t punting on the season in spite of trading Quandre Diggs. Is running back a major need they have identified? That could depend on how well Johnson and company adjust to their roles this week, something it sounds as if they plan to do.
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