D.J. Johnson kept with his man stride-for-stride, then scaled the air and batted a ball down that no one thought he could reach. It was one of the best pass break-ups of Tuesday’s OTAs. Still, Johnson immediately plopped down and did 10 push-ups. He only got one hand on it, but it’s a catch everyone is expected to make in the Eagles’ secondary.
“That’s just the DB thing,” Johnson said. “If we drop opportunities but we have both hands on the ball, or even just one hand, we feel like if we touch it we’re supposed to catch it and we do 10 push-ups. It’s really a rule everywhere, a drop translates to 10 push-ups.”
Johnson has been impressive in these spring passing camps. Working mostly with the backups, he has flashed unadvertised speed and great leaping ability. It’s something that some — mostly NFL scouts — didn’t give him credit for when he came out as an undrafted free agent in 2009.
“I’ll let the scouts judge me off my 40 time,” said Johnson, who posted a 4.5 in the 40 at the 2009 NFL Combine, “and I judge myself off what I do on the field.”
Johnson, who played his college ball at Jackson State, spent half of 2011 on the Eagles’ practice squad, then was re-signed to the active roster. He’s spent time on six different NFL teams, but hasn’t seen a regular-season game since 2010. The big question: why is Johnson in Philly?
“I guess word of mouth,” Johnson said. “I put together my best preseason film because that’s the only film anyone has on me, and then trying not to burn any bridges. Wherever I’m at, whatever organization, I’m going to work hard and make the most of it. I guess first impression is the lasting impression.”
Johnson is anxious to get to Lehigh for training camp, even though he realizes the odds to make the team are long. The Eagles might carry six cornerbacks on the final roster. Starters Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are locked in, with Joselio Hanson, Brandon Boykin and Curtis Marsh emerging as front-runners to round out the unit.
“Personally, my goal is to be employed and that’s how I’m handling it,” Johnson said. “And that’s not a down-talk on my talents or down-talk on anyone else, I’m just trying to do my best so I can be employed next year.”
Trust the beard: Kelce growing as leader
Jason Kelce is growing a beard worthy of Pirates of the Caribbean. The center is planning to keep it throughout the season, kind of like a hockey playoff beard.
Maybe it’s a statement that the offensive line belongs to him. Barring injury, he’ll make all the calls from mini-camps to Week 17, or hopefully to the Super Bowl.
“I’m not going to guarantee anything, but I think we do have a very special thing going on,” Kelce said. “We’ve looked very crisp so far through these OTAs and in the mini-camp, and it starts with the Cleveland Browns.”
Kelce is also developing a stronger bond with Mike Vick. He admitted that at the start of last season, Vick was skeptical. In time, the trust and respect has grown.
“He’s letting me make more of the calls,” Kelce said. “The respect level between me and Mike is at an all-time high, and I’m assuming it will keep getting better and better.”