- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2001

The quiet journey that began on the Boise State practice field two years ago reached the public eye Sunday.
That was when Washington Redskins fullback Bryan Johnson caught his first two NFL passes and the Carolina Panthers off guard. The receptions went for 47 yards; the latter, a 32-yarder, helped key the Redskins' winning drive in overtime.
Johnson, 23, played linebacker at Boise State, seeing offensive action only as a freshman utility back. But former Redskins scout Mel Bratton watched Johnson make a few interceptions in practice during his senior year (1999), and that was enough to convince Bratton that the unknown youngster had fullback potential.
Now coach Marty Schottenheimer, who overhauled the scouting staff and replaced Bratton in the offseason, appreciates the find.
"[Johnsons ability is] kind of remarkable given his limited background at running back," Schottenheimer said yesterday. "He's got quickness; he catches the ball; he's a very good blocker. He just needs experience. And we're going to give him some."
Johnson, an undrafted free agent, spent 2000 on the Redskins' practice squad. After bruiser Mike Sellers departed as a restricted free agent (to Cleveland) and reception specialist Larry Centers was cut (going to Buffalo) during the offseason, Johnson competed for the starting job against Donnell Bennett, a free agent who played for Schottenheimer in Kansas City.
Now Johnson is trying to adopt a talent from each of his past and present fullback teammates, saying, "I'd like to take L.C.'s hands, and then Mike's power, and Donnell's knowledge of the system. Work it all together, that would be great."
Johnson has reinforced his roster spot by contributing on special teams, where he ranks second on the Redskins with seven tackles and has forced a fumble.
Also on Strahan
Right tackle Jon Jansen gets the high-profile matchup Sunday against New York Giants left defensive end Michael Strahan, but right guard Ben Coleman should see some of the NFL's sack leader (101/2) because of the Giants' shifting scheme.
Strahan got a sack in the first Redskins game (Oct. 7) on a stunt that had him racing past Matt Campbell, who Coleman replaced in the starting lineup last week. And Strahan beat Philadelphia right guard Jermane Mayberry on a similar stunt in Monday's 10-9 loss to the Eagles.
So Coleman has quite a task, preparing to play talented defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin and take an occasional turn against the game's hottest pass rusher.
"It's just a matter of your preparation," Coleman said. "I've been in this thing long enough. I've seen all kinds of people, inside and out. … I feel comfortable defending his power and his quickness. However I decide to do that, he'll have to wait until Sunday."
Fischer out for year
Backup center Mark Fischer suffered a torn ACL before practice Wednesday and will miss the rest of the season.
Fischer, 27, started all 16 games last season in place of injured Cory Raymer and challenged Raymer for the job this preseason. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery several weeks ago and appeared to be healing, then tore the ligament in a routine drill.
Rookie David Brandt, who started the opener at right guard but played center at Michigan, becomes the backup center. The Redskins also will look to sign a young lineman.
Among other injuries, rookie cornerback Fred Smoot (leg) did not practice and remains doubtful. He will be inactive if he does not return to practice today.
Linebacker Antonio Pierce participated in more of practice but his status remains uncertain. Left tackle Chris Samuels (ankle) and defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson (leg) missed practice but are expected to return today.
Added to the injury list as questionable was defensive end Dorian Boose, whose knee locked up on him after practice Wednesday.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide