Sat, 28 Jan 2023

2022 Rookie Review: The Learning Experience For DT Eric Johnson II

Indianapolis Colts
24 Jan 2023, 16:39 GMT+10

Johnson appeared in 14 games as a rotational defensive tackle for the Colts in 2022. JJ Stankevitz

2022 Statistics

Games played: 14Defensive snaps played: 126 (13.2 percent)Tackles: 3Fumble recoveries: 1

The Big Picture

Johnson, the fifth-round rookie from Missouri State, spent his debut season as a rotational piece on Nate Ollie's defensive line. The majority of Johnson's snaps came in relief of defensive tackle Grover Stewart:

Snaps without Stewart on the field: 66Snaps with Stewart on the field: 51

For Johnson, transitioning into an NFL rotation - and averaging nine snaps per game - brought an early lesson into focus.

"You really have to be on your P's and Q's when it comes to this stuff because opportunities don't come often, but when they do it has to be pristine," Johnson said. "There's not much room for error. You have to try to hold yourself at a higher standard."

Johnson played in a read-and-react defensive front in college at Missouri State, so there was a transition for him coming to Ollie and Gus Bradley's attack-focused, penetrating directive. But as Johnson learned how to play in an attack front, he felt like he opened up another lane of versatility that'll benefit him for the rest of his career.

"I'm still realizing this about how quickly things can change, and not just from a depth position but team to team - guys can get traded, cut, picked up somewhere, you can be all the way across the country," Johnson said. "You gotta be able to adapt to a new environment. So If I'm here playing attack front, but I go to another team and can play a read front, then I still have the same technique from way back when I can rely on."

A key benefit to Johnson's rookie season, too, was getting to learn from veterans in Stewart and two-time Pro Bowler DeForest Buckner.

"There's a playing football part, and the being in the NFL part," Johnson said. "So handling yourself in the locker room, dealing with other teammates at a higher level and talking to coaches, how you go about operating within the facility, (Buckner's) who I look to for that."

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