Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Isaiah Johnson hardly saw playing time in his rookie season. The reason was a preseason injury he sustained which he blames himself for suffering.
Johnson made the most out of his time on the bench during his first year in the NFL. Likewise, he’s looking forward to competing for snaps in his sophomore campaign. Nevertheless, his personal growth doesn’t take away the pain he suffered when he fractured his face in preseason action last year.
In a conversation with Tashan Reed of the Athletic, Johnson describes what he went through at the moment of his injury. The cornerback says he got knocked out and once he got up, the pain he had was unbearable. “And then when I got up, my face was just screaming and my head was hurting. That pain in my face, I wouldn’t want anybody to feel that; it’s an unbearable pain that didn’t go away.”
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Isaiah Johnson: Ahead of the 2019 Season
Injuries weren’t the only obstacle Johnson faced in his rookie year. In training camp, there was a period of adjustment before he could display the attributes that made the Raiders draft him in the fourth round. He had a hard time during OTAs, which he saw as “the biggest eye-opener” for him.
“Just because I got out there and the speed of the game, the concepts and the rules were just so much. And it was overwhelming because it’s a new game. I consider myself to be a very fast football player and an intelligent one at that, but it was these vets and these guys had already been here and done this.”
Johnson was eventually able to hit his stride in training camp. He attributes that to the fact everyone was practicing with pads, which enabled him to show his physicality. “That aspect of my game came out even more because I was really able to get physical with people, put hands on people and run with people. Everything had changed. At that point, I think I had started to make a name for myself that I could really play football at this level.”
Alas, Johnson would have to wait until this year to show what he can bring to the table. Even though the Raiders selected a pair of cornerbacks this past draft in Amik Robertson and Damon Arnette, Johnson is unfazed. Regarding the competition in the Silver and Black cornerback group, he said “all you can do is get better.”
Johnson has the right kind of mindset Raiders brass has put an emphasis on.
“You either jump into competition or you shy away from it. I’m somebody that’s built for and loves competition. The opportunity to compete and play with these guys is a blessing for me. Competition only breeds excellence. And that’s something that I’m glad they did and they understand. That’s something we need in order to succeed.”
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Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal