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Camp Spotlight: Running back Kerryon Johnson

KERRYON JOHNSON

Position: Running back

Ht/Wt: 5-11, 211

College: Auburn

Experience: 2nd year

Outlook: Johnson had a stellar rookie season, even though it was cut short six games due to a knee injury. He was second in the league with a yards per carry average of 5.4. Johnson ran for 100 yards in a game twice, breaking the club’s 105-game streak without a 100-yard rusher when he went for 105 in a Week 3 victory over New England.

Through his first 10 career games, Johnson produced 641 rushing yards and 213 receiving yards. The only other player in Lions history to register 600 rushing yards and 200 receiving yards through their first 10 career games was Billy Sims in 1980.

The Lions are ushering in a new offense under Darrell Bevell, and Johnson and the run game are expected to play a big role. Johnson enters camp as the No. 1 back, but will have to prove he can stay healthy for a full 16-game slate.

Practice report: Johnson was the first back up in all the team and 7-on-7 periods. One part of Johnson’s game that developed into a real weapon last year was his ability as a pass catcher. Some of that was on display during Thursday’s first practice of training camp.

He and fellow running back C.J. Anderson worked with quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Tom Savage on some goal-line passing situations. Johnson and Anderson were working on splitting out wide and running routes. Johnson made a great leaping catch in the corner of the end zone and had the body control to get both feet down in the process.

He made two more catches later in practice in a 7-on-7 drill against the first-team defense.

The Lions weren’t in pads for Day 1 of practice, so there was no hitting, but Johnson made a nice cutback on a handoff in a team drill, and found himself in the secondary one-on-one against second-year safety Tracy Walker. Had both players been wearing pads, and a little bit of contact allowed, that would have been a nice matchup in the open field to see who comes out on top. Walker can bring it as a tackler, and we’ve seen how devastating Johnson’s stiff arm can be.

View photos of running back Kerryon Johnson from Day 1 of 2019 Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage.

Quotable: “We’ve got a lot of good running backs,” Johnson said after practice Thursday. “We’ve got an offensive coordinator who likes to run the ball. I mean, we’re just trying to play to our strengths. We’ve got a lot of good receivers to keep the defense honest. Obviously, we have a great quarterback.

"I’m sure Bev (Bevell) is sitting there thinking we have a lot of options, but it’s on us to do it at the end of the day. Scheme is great, plans are great, but at the end of the day, we’re the players and we have to play.”

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