For players on the fringes of an NFL roster, keeping your head above water is challenging. You don’t know when your next opportunity to prove yourself will emerge, and the pressure to succeed in those limited appearances is immense.
If you don’t take advantage, it might spell the end of your career.
Ty Johnson has experienced this throughout his two-year career. The Jets running back has received playing time only when his team has been ravaged by injuries, and the pressure to showcase his talent during those short stints is stressful. However, he feels differently going into 2021.
In a press conference on Thursday, the 23-year-old described a sense of comfort, knowing he will have a consistent role in Mike LaFleur’s offense, which traditionally uses a running back by committee style.
“I feel happier really, I feel better mentally,” said Johnson.
Nonetheless, the former sixth-round pick of the Lions will be battling for playing time in a deep running back room. With reporters though, he focused on the pros of having such a versatile group of backs, as it gives them a chance to learn from one another.
“You got all these guys that can do all these things. It’s just great to have that, because it’s like how I can add that to my game. So it’s just like oh, he can do this, he can do that well, I can do this well, so how can I show them what I can do well, how can they show me what they do well,” said Johnson.
The Maryland product will battle with veteran Tevin Coleman and rookie Michael Carter for the majority of the reps this season, but the clear partnership they have developed will likely lift up their individual play.
Another source of motivation for Johnson? His offensive line.
Their speed off the snap allows him to move into a different gear as he hurries to follow their blocks. Johnson emerged towards the end of last season when Frank Gore went down with an injury, behind a line that doesn’t compare to the one New York will feature this fall.
Jets fans should expect Johnson’s breakaway speed to be put on display in the wide zone scheme. In a crowded room, it may take some time for the young back to get the time on the field he needs, but the potential is certainly there, particularly in a running-friendly system.