Practice squad elevations are typically met with little fan fare, but the Seattle Seahawks made a move ahead of their Monday Night Football matchup with the Washington Football Team that is worth watching. The Seahawks elevated running back Josh Johnson along with corner Gavin Heslop.
Johnson is an undrafted rookie out of Louisiana Monroe who could get an opportunity to get carries given the number of injuries at the position group. The Seahawks lost Chris Carson to a season-ending neck injury, while Rashaad Penny is once again sidelined. Heading into Week 12, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll admitted that Penny could be headed to the Injured Reserve list.
The current rotation of Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer has underwhelmed this season, especially with the emphasis that Carroll wants to place on running the football. Carroll detailed what fans can expect from Johnson if he gets snaps.
“He’s been a real attack kind of guy,” Carroll noted, per Seahawks.com. “He hits the line of scrimmage really hard. If you remember from pre-season, the few chances he got, he catches the ball really well, one of the best catchers that we have. He’s a physical kid, low to the ground a little bit, a little lower makeup than some of the guys, but he has a really physical style to him that we like.”
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Johnson Rushed for 1,298 Rushing yards & 11 Touchdowns in 2019
Johnson’s best season came in 2019 when the running back notched 1,298 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior at Louisiana Monroe. Sports Illustrated’s Corbin Smith is among those who believes Johnson can make an immediate impact.
“Not sure if Phillip Lindsay would be a good fit for the Seahawks or not,” Smith tweeted on November 23. “If they really want to give a running back a shot, I think it’s time to see what Josh Johnson can do. Johnson, who signed as an undrafted rookie out of Louisiana Monroe, is a physical, downhill runner with surprising shiftiness and burst. Impressed during the preseason before being waived and signed to practice squad.
“John Schneider doesn’t want him talked about, but…If Schneider is so concerned about Johnson being plucked by another team, now is the time to elevate him. Put Penny back on injured reserve and move on. Johnson can enter rotation with Collins, Homer, and Dallas.”
‘Johnson Is at His Best When He Can Make Lateral Cuts,’ Says Analyst
For all the potential optimism, it is worth noting that Johnson went undrafted which means there are flaws in his game. That said, there is little risk in the Seahawks giving Johnson a few carries to see how he plays. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler provided a scouting report on Johnson heading into the draft.
“Johnson is at his best when he can make lateral cuts to bounce between run lanes, chipping away at the defense,” Brugler detailed in his 2021 NFL Draft guide. “However, he is too dependent on his jump-cut, making unnecessary moves and questionable decisions. Overall, Johnson can compete for a complementary role in the NFL with his quickness and functional third-down skills, but his inconsistent creativity limits his upside. He projects best in an outside zone scheme.