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Johnson Making His Presence Felt Early
Through the early portion of training camp, number 96 in blue has made an immediate impact, hustling hard and leading by example. Constantly barking out words of encouragement and advice for his teammates, he also lets his performance on the field speak for itself.
Thus, it’s easy to see why signing Jarret Johnson was a high priority during the offseason for the San Diego Chargers.
Incredibly tough and extremely durable, Johnson joins the Bolts after suiting up in a team-record 129-straight regular season games for the Baltimore Ravens, including 80 consecutive starts. During his nine seasons there, the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder totaled 523 tackles, 20 sacks, three picks, nine forced fumbles and 21 passes defended.
A highly coveted commodity during free agency throughout the league, the veteran outside linebacker says his decision to come out west and join the Chargers was a no brainer.
“The enthusiasm they had about having me was off the charts,” he said with sweat pouring through his pads after another lively practice on Sunday. “Any time a team is that excited about having you, that’s where you want to be. And this being a team with such good talent, a team that could potentially be a championship team, it made the decision really easy.”
Another reason Johnson was attracted to San Diego was Head Coach Norv Turner, who impressed the linebacker tremendously even before he signed with the team.
“Having Norv as a coach is just awesome,” he said. “My experience with him, and my experience with the players who have been around him for a while, is remarkable. He’s such a good coach, and just spending a couple minutes with him you see just how much he knows about football. He’s got a great mind for the game and he really cares about the guys on this team. I love being around him.”
In turn, the Chargers’ head coach is thrilled to have Johnson on board and likes what he’s seen so far from his new addition.
“Jarret’s one of those guys who does everything he’s supposed to,” said Turner. “He’s a physical presence and a sharp guy. He helps out the young guys. He’s also an extremely competitive player, and everything we’ve done, when it gets more competitive, the better he plays. So I think he will really help us through a 16 game season. He’s something we’ve missed the last few years. He sets the edge, and like I said, is a physical presence. He lines up every day and does his job.”
While it can be a tough transition to come to a new team after spending your entire career in one place, Johnson says his acclimation to the Chargers defense has gone relatively smoothly.
“It’s going good so far out here. Everyday I’m getting better and more comfortable and finding my groove with the defense. The main difference for me is the language. It’s very similar schemes and techniques, but the language is different. It’s night and day. Even though we’re talking about the same thing whether it be a lane or a blitz, it’s different terminology, and you’ve got to learn those words in order to communicate with your teammates.”
So far, those teammates have come away mightily impressed. To Johnson’s credit, he’s quickly earned their respect for his on-field demeanor and tireless work ethic.
“He’s really a great football player,” said fellow linebacker Takeo Spikes. “He always knows what he’s doing and what’s going on. He’s always in the right place. You know what you’re going to get from him, and he is going to be an important piece for us.”
While it is still just the early days of training camp, Johnson has already emerged as another veteran voice alongside Spikes that commands respect in the locker room.
“I’m going to be one of those guys,” he said proudly. “I’ve played a lot of football games and been through a lot of battles. So I’m going to help out where I can. This team has a good mix of older veteran leadership combined with young, youthful talent. And that’s what you want. You want to have a bunch of old guys who’ve been through the trenches along with young guys that want to prove something.”
For Johnson, it won’t take long for him to prove to fans why the Chargers so passionately recruited him during the offseason. So far he’s been exactly what they hoped they were getting.
*Melvin Ingram and Demorrio Williams each had a nice play to break up a run in the backfield.
*Ingram also snuffed out a screen pass later in the day for a loss.
*Michael Hayes burst through for a big run on a first and 10.
*Vincent Brown made a diving grab on a 40-yard bomb.
*Antoine Cason cut in front of the receiver for pick on the first play of 11 on 11 drills.
*Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates continued to show strong chemistry, hooking up for a number of big plays.
*Roscoe Parrish made a strong catch on a crossing route with a defender draped all over him.
*NFL Network broadcasted this morning’s practice live.
*Doug Wilkerson, a member of the Chargers Hall of Fame, was in attendance.
*Today marked the second of 10 open practice dates this summer.
*Don’t forget to download the 2012 Media Guide by clicking here.