Bills Slam Door on Rams’ Attempt to Poach RB Ty Johnson

Sean McDermott

Getty Bills head coach Sean McDermott on August 26, 2023.

The Buffalo Bills were down a running back after Damien Harris suffered a scary neck injury in Week 6, but the team ultimately looked inward to find his replacement.

While NFL Insider Jordan Schultz posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on October 16 that Buffalo invited free agent running back Leonard Fournette for a visit, the workout was canceled the next day.

“I’m told Leonard Fournette’s visit with the #Bills is being scratched,” Schultz reported on October 17. “My understanding is Buffalo was expecting to lose RB Ty Johnson from their practice squad, which was the reason they were bringing Lenny in. But Johnson is now staying, and Lenny will wait for a better opportunity.”

Shortly after the Bills announced they were promoting Johnson to the 53-man roster on Friday, October 20, effectively slamming the door on any franchise looking to steal the running back from the practice squad, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport revealed which team came close to poaching the fifth-year veteran.

“The #Bills promoted RB Ty Johnson to the 53-man roster from the practice squad after the #Rams tried to sign him earlier in the week,” Rapoport posted.

Rams podcast host Jake Ellenbogen posted, “Worth noting #Rams OC Mike LaFleur worked with Ty Johnson with the #Jets. The familiarity and receiving ability seems to be a focus here for the Rams and we see that as they pivoted to Myles Gaskin,” whom they signed off the Vikings’ practice squad instead.

While Schultz reported there was a “good chance” the Bills would sign Fournette, a former first-round pick and Super Bowl champ, Buffalo preferred to elevate Johnson, which a is huge nod of confidence in the Detroit Lions’ 2019 sixth-round pick.

Ty Johnson Spent the Past 3 Seasons With the Jets

Johnson spent three seasons with the New York Jets before signing with the Bills in August. He was abruptly released by the Jets in May after the team encouraged him to undergo surgery for a torn pectoral muscle, which was a tumultuous experience for the 26-year-old.

Johnson opened up about his exit from the Meadowlands in an Instagram video. “I’ve had some dark, dark days, man,” he said while sitting in an ice barrel.

“Like honestly, went to New York and told them. I told them before reporting, ‘Hey, I was working out. This is what happened.’ Saw the team doctor. He said, ‘You need to get it fixed.’ Flew out the next day. Come back happy that I got it done, even though I didn’t want to get it done. That following Wednesday, ya’ outta there, and I was like, ‘Damn.’ At the end of the day, I know I’m going to be all right. I know God has got my back, and just keep going forward, man.”

Over the past four years, Johnson has recorded 208 carries for 925 yards and four rushing touchdowns, along with 86 receptions for 668 yards with three scores in 62 game appearances.

Johnson will look to make his season debut with the Bills (4-2) when the team travels to Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots (1-5) on Sunday, October 22.

Bills RB Damien Harris Will Be Out for at Least 4 Weeks

The Bills officially placed Harris on injured reserve on Friday, which means he’ll be out for at least four weeks. Losing Harris for an extended period of time is a tough blow for the Bills backfield, but the fact he’ll eventually return to play at all is great news.

Head coach Sean McDermott told reporters after Harris was released from the hospital on October 17, “He’s doing well, or as well as can expected. He seems to be in good spirits.”

“I think he’s just extremely thankful to God,” McDermott continued. “For him being in the situation that he’s in, as opposed to what he was several hours ago on that field. So, really, just resetting and trying to get some rest and just slowing things down a little here.”

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