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Three Takeaways: Austin Johnson Hopes to Showcase Versatility with the Bolts

Austin Johnson FTP

Below are three takeaways from Austin Johnson's introductory media availability.

Wanted to be a part of the Bolts defense

Coming off a career year with the New York Giants, the Chargers signed defensive lineman Austin Johnson to bolster their defense up front.

With his contract signed, Johnson spoke to members of the media last Wednesday to discuss what he brings to his new team.

The latest addition to the Chargers defensive line also talked about why he chose to start the next chapter of his career with the Bolts.

"Amazing defense. Amazing coaches," Johnson said. "Great area to play in. There weren't any negative things about the organization at all. You really can't go wrong by choosing the Chargers. It's just a really good defense that I wanted to be a part of."

Johnson will pair up with new teammate and former Rams defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day. Johnson talked about the perks of playing alongside Joseph-Day, who already has familiarity with head coach Brandon Staley's scheme.

"That's one of the cool things about going to a new team and a new place and new people, you get to pick their brain and constantly," Johnson said. "Year after year, you put that into your game, and keep on learning and adapting. I feel like it'll be very cool to pick his brain. He's a very smart dude. I can't wait to do that."

Brings versatility to the Bolts defensive line

At 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, Johnson brings the necessary size and power to stop the run and get to the passer on game days. The former Tennessee Titan and Giant talked about where he played on the defensive line last year in the Giants' scheme and how he was able to showcase his versatility while in New York.

"I played predominantly nose [tackle], 0 [technique]," Johnson said. "I played a lot of positions. I ended up playing a 5 [technique], 4i [technique], inside of the tackle and outside of the tackle, just all over the place — and I felt comfortable doing that stuff. I feel like it's very easy for me to adapt to whatever position that I need to be out there. Wherever they want to put me, that's where I'll play."

As for where Johnson's preferred spot on the defensive line is, he explained he will play wherever the Chargers coaches ask him to play.

"I love being versatile," he said. "Love being moving around and playing different positions, and just changing it up on the offensive line. I look forward to hopefully doing that… That's the kind of guy that they're going to get. There's no real preference to any position, honestly."

Building off a career year in 2021

The 2021 season was Johnson's best as he recorded a career-high 3.5 sacks and tripled his career-best in tackles that he set in 2017 with 72 combined tackles last season. Johnson cited feeling comfortable and "just having fun" as for what allowed him to have a career year in 2021.

As Johnson heads into his seventh NFL season, he talked about what he brings to the Bolts defense as he looks to build on last year's personal success.

"Being stout in the middle," he said. "Making plays. Running sideline-to-sideline. I feel like if you watch how I played last year, that will give you a very good answer about how I play and how I can help in that aspect."

While Johnson and Joseph-Day focus on being a force in the middle of the defensive line, the new Chargers duo also pairs up with outside linebackers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. Johnson explained how Bosa and Mack positively affect his game.

"It definitely frees everybody else up. Obviously, on pass downs, those guys are definitely going to be targeted, featured and looked out for. It definitely helps everybody else on the field, especially along the interior. Can't wait to see how that goes."

Browse through photos of one of the Chargers new additions along the defensive line, six-year vet, Austin Johnson

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