Johnson played a handful of snaps on special teams and was on the field for kneeldowns at the end of the 30-14 victory, which was a development that would have shocked Patriots head coach Bill Belichick a few months ago. Johnson, who was born in Germany and played at Tennessee, signed with the Patriots through the International Pathway Program and Belichick said Monday that Johnson “started out as the 91st player on the roster.”
Players in that program get a roster exemption, so Johnson got time to progress and make a positive impression on Belichick. Belichick said Johnson’s “physicality and toughness showed up in preseason games” and the coach said he’s continued to make positive strides while on the practice squad.
“What he’s done has been remarkable and in a relatively short period of time,” Belichick said, via WEEI.com. “But he works extremely hard. He’s one of the first players here every morning. He studies his notecards. You see him in the dining room just studying notecards, going over his plays. He puts literally every ounce of energy he has into this job and into our team. He’s totally earned everybody’s respect for that. He’s a young player. He has a long way to go. There is a lot of room for improvement, but he works very hard at it.”
Develin’s return to health or a shortage of players at another position could cost Johnson his spot on the 53-man roster, but it sounds like Johnson’s work ethic should keep him in the mix for a roster spot.