Johnson was added to the list exactly two weeks ago, on July 27. The Cowboys were not required to specify whether he contracted the coronavirus or simply came into contact with an infected individual.
The Toledo product was signed by the Cowboys in 2019 as an undrafted free agent. After collecting early offseason buzz, Johnson turned in a disappointing preseason, finishing with eight catches for 73 scoreless yards. He was shipped to injured reserve prior to final cuts due to a shoulder issue.
The 6-foot, 192-pound wideout was a fairly decorated collegian, earning second-team All-MAC honors in 2016 and third-team All-MAC honors in 2018. Johnson compiled 2,265 yards and 25 touchdowns on 125 receptions across 46 appearances for the Rockets.
He was loosely compared to former Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin during the pre-draft process.
“I can’t help but think Johnson is going to be that great grinder #4-5 WR for a team that never really becomes memorable, but there’s a chance based on his profile –so he’s definitely worth a look,” wrote R.C. Fischer of College Football Metrics.
While Dallas’ top three receivers (Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb) are entrenched on the depth chart, there’s less certainty behind them. Standing between Johnson and a final roster spot are the likes of Devin Smith, Ventell Bryant, Noah Brown, and Cedrick Wilson.
Johnson still faces an uphill battle to unseat his veteran teammates, but getting into the building — to even absorb mental reps — at least gives him a fighting chance.
Follow the Heavy on Cowboys Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Smith Tested Positive for Virus
The Cowboys revealed on Aug. 2 that Smith returned a positive coronavirus test, preventing his entry into team headquarters for one week. The Dallas Morning News reported at the time that Smith was asymptomatic. Such players must produce two consecutive negative tests within a five-day period, or wait 10 days since the initial positive test, to resume practicing.
Smith, 22, signed a one-year free-agent deal with Dallas on April 10. A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Smith began his collegiate career at LSU, making 10 appearances as a freshman. Following a JuCo stint with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, he transferred to Alabama.
He started 12 games for the Crimson Tide in 2018, notching a team-high three interceptions, five pass breakups, and a defensive touchdown, afterward opting to forego his senior campaign and enter the NFL draft.
Smith (6-1, 199, 33 1/4-inch arms) drew a fourth- to fifth-round grade from NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein, who likened him to ex-Panthers and Raiders CB Daryl Worley, who also joined the Cowboys this offseason.
“He’s athletic enough for man coverage, but his collection of strengths and weaknesses requires better technique and aggression from press to gain control of the rep,” Zierlein wrote. “Smith’s ceiling is NFL starter and his floor should be fourth cornerback.”
The Cowboys’ starting corners (Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie) and backups (Daryl Worley, Trevon Diggs, Reggie Robinson) are pretty well established, though Smith could carve a role as a No. 5 or No. 6 option, depending on how many CBs crack the 55-man regular-season squad.
Cowboys Waive Rookie WR
To create room on the offseason roster for Johnson and Smith, Dallas was forced to purge undrafted rookie wide receiver Kendrick Rogers.
Rogers (6-4, 204) was a three-year contributor for Texas A&M, where he caught 68 passes for 786 yards and seven scores over 23 games.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL