Kerryon Johnson: Release by Detroit ‘kind of scary’

Kerryon Johnson earned All-State Recognition for three consecutive AHSAA Championship teams and was named Class 3A Player of the Year at Madison Academy in 2014.

In 2017, Johnson won the SEC Offensive Player of the Year Award when he ran the conference in a hurry in Auburn.

In his first two seasons in the NFL, Johnson also led the Detroit Lions in a rush.

But on Thursday, Johnson was out of work after the Lions posted the return with a season left on his contract.

Johnson was only without a team for 24 hours before being given a waiver to the Philadelphia Eagles, but he still found his experience with the NFL’s transactional process troubling.

“It was a little weird,” Johnson said during a press conference in Philadelphia on Tuesday. “I’ve seen it happen to others, but I’ve never seen it personally. So it was scary to go through it once. Kudos to the people who have been through it several times and are still going through it today. Thankfully it only lasted 24 hours or so, so luckily it wasn’t a long heartbreaker. But it was a little weird, a little scary at first.

“But the Eagles, they saw something in me, and I appreciate them for seeing that, and I’m ready to give 100 percent to this organization. What I have left is 100 percent. That’s what I’ll give, that’s what I’ll fight for, that’s what I’ll do, that’s what I’ll be for. I’ve shown this in the past, and I’ll keep showing it because I’m ready to go, locked up, ready to roll. “

Johnson joins six other running backs on the Eagles’ offseason list.

Philadelphia returns Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, the two best players of last season. Sanders ran 867 yards and six touchdowns with 164 runs, and Scott had 374 yards and one touchdown with 80 rushing attempts.

The Eagles have re-signed former Gardendale High School and standout UAB star Jordan Howard this off-season after the two-time 1000-yard rusher only had 60 yards and four touchdowns to 35 carry in 2020.

Former UAB star thought his NFL career “could be done”

Philadelphia’s three other running backs – Elijah Holyfield, Jason Huntley and Adrian Killins Jr. – have a combined six-game NFL experience.

“My expectation is to compete,” said Johnson. “I don’t think having a crowded room full of talented people is ever a problem. All we have to do is get each and every one of us to do our best. “

Johnson joined the Lions as a second round hit in the 2018 NFL Draft. In his third game as a rookie, Johnson finished Detroit’s 70-game streak without a 100-yard rusher. Johnson rose to the starting line-up and ran 158 yards three games later. Johnson had 641 yards and three touchdowns on 118 runs when a knee injury ended his first season in game 10.

Johnson had 308 yards and two touchdowns on 92 runs when another knee injury pulled him out of circulation in the sixth game of 2019. Johnson returned from the injured reserve to play the final two games of the season, adding 95 yards and a touchdown on 21 runs.

The addition of Adrian Peterson in the free agency and D’Andre Swift in the NFL Draft reduced Johnson’s role in 2020. Johnson’s production dropped to 181 yards and two touchdowns in 52 rush attempts and 19 receptions for 187 yards and a TD.

While Peterson is no longer with Detroit, the Lions have Jamaal Williams in the free agency and Jermar Jefferson in the draft in their backfield this off-season before giving up Johnson.

In three NFL seasons, Johnson has played in 34 games with 16 starts. He has completed 1,225 yards and eight touchdowns on 283 carries and caught 61 passes for 527 yards and three touchdowns.

“Catch the pass, block the pass, be a very smart guy on the field and let the ball go,” said Johnson of what he brought into the Eagles’ running backs room. “If you are able to do different things, you will always get a place in this league, no matter what position, no matter how old, no matter how young, no matter what team, no matter what talent.

“I just have to make sure I get out there and prove that I am multi-faceted. Get out there and prove I know what to do first of all, because that will get you on the bank faster than anything. Just go out and do me and compete at the highest level and the rest will take care of themselves. “

Johnson has a reputation for being one of the best running backs at pass protection in the NFL. He said it’s a skill he learned at Auburn.

“That’s something every rewind has to do,” said Johnson. “When I was in college, my running backs coach Tim Horton, we worked in fall camp almost every day, almost every off-season, and then we worked at least once a week during the season – against the linebackers. practice different movements, practice what to think, practice how we should adjust. And I feel like it was just kind of translated, and I’ve gotten better and better over the years, so now I have a reputation to live up to, which is excellent. That means I have to come with you every day. Linebackers and people who flash will notice it too, and they will go to extra effort to beat me, and I have to keep doing this. “

After missing 14 games in his first two seasons due to knee injuries, Johnson played for Detroit in every game in 2020.

“I feel better than I have done the last two years,” said Johnson. “But it’s one thing to say. I have to go out there and prove it every day. “

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @ AMarkG1.

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