The Las Vegas Raiders drafted a couple cornerbacks earlier this year. Both rookies will have a chance to compete for playing time. However, they’re not the only ones vying for a role with the team. Second year player Isaiah Johnson will be right behind them looking for ways to contribute.
The Raiders selected Johnson in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Although the corner wouldn’t have started right away, he had the physical tools to progressively take the field. The team had so little talent at the position that he had an actual chance to make the team. Alas, injuries hindered his rookie season before it even started and had to wait a bit longer to make his debut. Las Vegas’ depth at cornerback became even more shallow once they traded Gareon Conley. Had the rookie been healthy, he could have had an opportunity to be part of the cornerback rotation.
In a recent article on the team’s official website, Johnson talked about the challenges he went through in his first year. “I honestly expected to open a lot of eyes and show people that I was not just the mid-round pick the Raiders got to play special teams.” Later, the cornerback added, “I wanted to show people I could play defense just as much as I could play special teams. I could contribute towards the goal of what the team was trying to achieve.”
Isaiah Johnson’s Display of Patience and Maturity
It would’ve been easy for Johnson to feel down after getting getting his face fractured in preseason action. Instead, he “understood it wasn’t his time yet” and made the best out of it. “A lot of people get in a rush and feel like this needs to happen now, or they have a point to prove.” After he fractured his face, some wondered how he could cope with all the things he was going through. “Multiple people on the team were asking me how I was okay and managing to deal with it. I feel like, if I would’ve fractured my face before we got to training camp I would’ve been way more devastated, but because I got to show I could play during training camp I was little more at ease.”
Throughout the whole ordeal, Johnson kept a positive attitude while tackling the challenges that came with waiting. “The reality of it is, it’s a good thing that [my injury] happened because a lot of rookies get thrown into the fire.” Not playing right away could be frustrating for some players, but the corner took in in stride. “It gave me the opportunity to break down the game mentally and understand different concepts… Now, I can take all of that and apply it in Year Two, knowing I took the time to learn all the things that I learned while I was injured.”
Isaiah Johnson will have a harder time cracking the Raiders starting defense. The team double-dipped at cornerback in the draft and Prince Amukamara joined the team not long ago. Nevertheless, he should have no problem resuming where he left off last year. With a whole season to reflect and learn, Johnson should thrive in training camp and even possibly the regular season.
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Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal