Last year, amidst another unsuccessful season for the Cleveland Browns, the team made some news for a midseason signing. Looking for a player to fill the roster spot left open after QB Brian Hoyer was placed on injured reserve, the Browns signed receiver Charles Johnson off the Green Bay Packers practice squad.
Nothing to write home about here, right? Just a low-key signing for a team just looking to fill a hole on the roster. Unfortunately, such a miniscule move became news when the Browns discovered a torn ACL in Johnson’s knee, and it became even bigger when the injury was revealed after the team signed him to a contract.
LOL Browns, am I right?
Well, in the early stages of training camp, word is Johnson is looking less like a punchline and more like a player to watch out for this season.
Start with the fact that, thanks to Josh Gordon’s impending suspension, the Browns badly need help at receiver. Recently signed vets like Miles Austin and Nate Burleson are expected to start, but each has a history with injuries. Andrew Hawkins has had a great camp so far, but his size makes him a much better fit for playing in the slot.
So, with this in mind, Cleveland is definitely going to be on the lookout for anyone on the current roster who can help at a position with little depth, and Johnson appears primed to take advantage of this.
Coming in at 6-2 ½ and 215 lbs, Johnson definitely has the size required to succeed at wideout. On top of this, after posting a 4.38 40 time, it would appear his quickness is definitely a factor as well. Initial reports from Browns camp say Johnson is surprisingly up to speed on the offensive scheme of new OC Kyle Shanahan. He also already has some chemistry developed with Hoyer, as they practiced routes together last season while rehabbing from their respective ACL surgeries.
However, said recovery from such a serious injury is one of the things going against Johnson making a big impact for Cleveland. He’s going up against other receivers in camp who are coming in 100% healthy, a disadvantage which is tough to overcome. Any small setback with his recovery, and Johnson could slide lower and lower down the depth chart.
With preseason opening up next week, Johnson needs to take advantage of any opportunity he gets to show off his potential. If he can put together a few successful games and couple it with continued progress at camp, Johnson could become a wildcard for the Browns.
Replacing Gordon is a near-impossible feat, but Johnson’s size and speed make him a potential candidate to do just that.