|Vikings' Charles Johnson making strides for 2015 -- Tue Dec 30 11:45 am --|
Bears' Brandon Marshall to Johnson: 'You're a baller'
|Charles Johnson entered a game last month at Chicago with six career catches. When the game was over, Bears star Brandon Marshall wanted to work out with him this offseason.
Marshall didn't know anything about the Vikings wide receiver prior to a Nov. 16 game at Soldier Field. Then he saw Johnson catch six passes for 87 yards.
"He came up to me after the game and he said, 'Hey man, much respect, you're a baller, you're really good,''' Johnson said of his first encounter with the Chicago wide receiver while Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was nearby. "Teddy was standing there and he said to him, 'Why didn't you tell me about him? Invite him to our (offseason) camp.' Teddy was like, 'We just signed him.' It was pretty cool.''
Johnson was signed off Cleveland's practice squad Sept. 20, and two months later had his breakout game against the Bears. Now, he expects to be working out this offseason not only with Bridgewater, but with Marshall, soon to be recovered from season-ending broken ribs and a lung injury suffered Dec. 4.
Bridgewater and Marshall both train at Fit Speed Athletic Performance in Weston, Fla., just outside Miami. Johnson is looking forward to getting some pointers from a guy who has five NFL 100-catch seasons while having made five Pro Bowls.
"It's great,'' Johnson said. "It was something to see that a guy like him who's established thought that I was good and acknowledged my game. He said that I had some good skills, and I really appreciated the compliment.''
Pardon Marshall if he knew little about Johnson until last month. After being a seventh-round pick out of Division II Grand Valley (Mich.) State by Green Bay in 2013, Johnson was on the Packers' practice squad before getting picked up by the Browns. Then he had knee surgery, ending his season.
Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner held that position last year with Cleveland and Minnesota quarterbacks coach Scott Turner was then the Browns receivers coach. They saw enough of Johnson to recommend he be signed three months ago.
Johnson had his first six career catches over a seven-game span before his big outing against the Bears. After that game, he replaced Cordarrelle Patterson as a starting wide receiver and finished the season with 31 catches for 475 yards and two touchdowns.
"We all respect Charles around here,'' Patterson said. "I hope he'll be here for many years.''
Johnson still has two years left on his rookie contract, paying him an economical $510,000 in 2015 and $600,000 in 2016. So he's not going anywhere anytime soon.
"I just go out there each day and just try to work, so you can see my type of talent that I have, and I think coaches can see that,'' Johnson said.
Marshall also has seen it. The two might play for rival NFC North teams, but Johnson relishes any chance he can get to learn from one of the league's top receivers. (Pioneer Press)|
FF Today's Take: It's funny that these two -- who both share the same-spelled names with other NFL players. But it's excellent news that Marshall will be mentoring Johnson, as Marshall is one of the top red zone targets in the league and a guy to emulate for his intelligence and ever-growing emotional awareness. Johnson could be a very exciting player in 2015 and could make a interesting mid-round sleeper pick who provides WR2 value.