The Eagles recently added Kerryon Johnson after the running back was released by the Lions, and he spoke to Philly media for the first on Tuesday, and is excited to play for the organization, to play with Jalen Hurts, and to feel the energy of the coaching staff.
Johnson admitted that it’s weird not really knowing many players or coaches, but they’ll develop those relationships over the next few months and be ready to go for the season. He does know Darius Slay from their time together in Detroit, and he knows a few other guys from Auburn and around the league.
Here’s what else he had to say:
On his knee and knee brace
Johnson’s first question out of the gate was about his knee brace, something he said he wore last year for peace of mind, and he confirmed that he plans on wearing it again in 2021 — and again every year after that.
“Still gives me peace of mind, same as always. No, I don’t feel like it restricts me, though. Once you practice with something like that on for awhile, you kind of become used to it.”
The RB also said that he honestly thinks that he can get back to the player and production prior to his knee injuries, and noted that he feels better than he has the past two years. But, it’s one thing to say that and another to get on the field to prove it.
On being released by the Lions
Johnson admitted that it was a little weird, and that he’s seen this kind of roster move happen to others, but was the first time for him personally.
“It was kind of scary. Major kudos to people who’ve been through it multiple times, those still going through it to this day. But, luckily it only lasted, what, like 24 hours or something like that, so it wasn’t a long heart throb, thankfully.”
The running back went on to say that he appreciates that the Eagles still saw something in him and he’s ready to give the organization 100 percent.
“I’m ready to go. I’m locked in. I’m ready to roll.”
On his role with the Eagles
He was asked about his expectations as he joins a crowded running back room, and Johnson said that he expects to come in and compete.
“I don’t think having a crowded room, full of talented guys, is an issue. All that’s going to do is make every single one us perform at our best. It’s going to give us the best product and end goal on the field.”
Johnson noted that’s all you can ask for in the NFL, to have a group that makes each other better, and that’s what they have in Philly. He pointed to the fact that they have three guys who have proven themselves in the league, and three young guys coming in hungry.
It was pointed out that Johnson is considered one of the better pass protection backs in the NFL, but the running back smiled and admitted that it isn’t something that came naturally to him. It’s something that he said every running back should want to do, and in college he worked every day going against linebackers and defenders to improve that part of his game. The more work he put in, the better results he saw, and that was the case over the years — and now it’s a reputation he has to live up to.
Johnson was asked his favorite run play, and he acknowledged that it’s about whatever play the offensive line likes to block for most — that’s the way he’ll get the most yards, so he’ll work on whatever the five guys up front prefer, and that’ll be his favorite.
On playing with Jalen Hurts
Johnson was asked about how he can compliment a mobile quarterback like Jalen Hurts — someone he played against in college.
“First of all, I’m glad that I get to play with him and not against him anymore, personally — he was hell to play against. Awesome guy, awesome leader. For one, I’m happy for that. But, two, just the way he likes to extend things, the way he likes to use his feet, the way he can use his feet, it’s gonna play well for me. Being able to block for him, being able to try to give him a little more peace of mind that he knows, ‘Hey if I need to get something picked up, I know I have a guy that can, I know I can trust him’ — which is something I’m going to have to prove to him that he can.”
He went on to say that quarterbacks that can use their feet tend to be in tune with the running backs with check-downs, getting the ball out quick, and finding guys after they scramble out of the pocket. Johnson is very excited about getting to play with Hurts and prove that he’s something the QB can rely on.
As for what Johnson remembers about competing with Hurts when they were at Auburn and Alabama, respectively, the RB noted the QB’s strength. He quipped about Hurts putting up huge numbers in the weight room for a quarterback, and Auburn’s linebackers had to approach tackling as if they were going against a back.
On Nick Sirianni
“The head coach has been nothing short of spectacular. Just the few moments I’ve had with him, he’s super energetic, you can tell he loves what he does, you can tell that he appreciates the opportunity he has to lead this team. You can tell he’s building a staff that’s energetic that loves to come to work, that loves to coach, loves football and loves the game. So, that fits right in with me.”