Fri, Sep 18, 2015

David Johnson in 'Way Better Playing Shape'

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H-back David Johnson. Photo by Chris Humphreys, USA TODAY Sports

David Johnson looks forward to many more bruising blocks and maybe some more catches this season.

The 6'2", 260-pound H-back is completely healthy after a knee injury slowed him at times last season. He figures to be a key component in San Diego's running game, which has been rejuvenated by the additions of Melvin Gordon and Orlando Franklin, as well as the return of Danny Woohead.

When Johnson lines up as a fullback, he can create holes for Gordon, Woodhead and Branden Oliver. When he lines up at tight end, he can seal the edge and even leak out for a few receptions.

Johnson did both of those things during his four years in Pittsburgh -- catching 22 passes for 216 yards -- before coming to San Diego last year. However, he never emerged as a viable option in San Diego's passing attack, catching just one pass in 14 games.

At San Diego's mandatory mini camp last week, he seemed primed for a productive season.

"I feel great," he said. "I'm more comfortable with the offense and I'm in way better playing shape."

This year's June camp, scheduled for three days, lasted only two. But Johnson noticed a difference. He said the camps here are faster than in Pittsburgh.

"It's great. Everyone's excited and having fun competing. They're not just trying to get through it."

The six-year veteran demonstrated some adept diplomacy skills, as well. When asked who through a harder ball, Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger, he answered without answering.

"Philip does throw a very catchable ball," he said. "They're both great quarterbacks. No one can complain."

Diplomacy test No. 2: How does he feel about the team's possible move to L.A. or Carson City?

"We're playing in this stadium this year, just trying to make it the best year that we can," Johnson said. "We're just focused on playing football, whatever happens."

But there's nothing diplomatic about his blocking skills. Johnson hits hard. It remains to be seen how the Chargers will utilize him this year, but Johnson is ready whether it be blocking, catching, running or playing special teams.

As one of four tight ends on the roster with an expiring contract, Johnson is eager to go all-in.

"I just line up where they tell me to line up," he said. "As an H-back, you can play each position."


What kind of impact will Johnson make this season? Talk about it inside our new message boards!


Scott Neinas has worked as a journalist since 1993. He covered the U.S. Hockey National Development Team in Ann Arbor, Mich., and worked as a staff reporter for the Monroe Evening News. Follow him on Twitter: @scott9s.

Tags: 
Ben Roethlisberger, Branden Oliver, Danny Woodhead, David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Orlando Franklin, Philip Rivers
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