He was persistent when he messaged every team in the Alliance of American Football without a response. He was persistent when he repeatedly called the general manager of the Orlando Apollos. And he was persistent in his first NFL start with 22 carries for 146 yards.
“Just growing up, my whole life, I don’t want to be denied about anything. Just trying to make things happen,” Johnson told reporters on Thursday, a week after his huge showing during Thursday Night Football
He had one touchdown and was named the FedEx Ground Player of the Week as he shouldered the running back duties in the absence of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. He even got the attention of LeBron James.
“It’s good that everybody’s noticing the hard work I put in and stuff, but I still got a lot more work to do,” Johnson said.
During his media availability, the 25-year-old tried to keep the attention on the team, saying everyone stepped up when their number was called during the Browns victory over the Broncos. His number could be called again on Sunday against the Steelers. While Chubb is hopeful to play, Hunt remains on the injured reserve.
Johnson was an undrafted free agent out of college and spent the 2018 season on a fishing boat, until his persistence paid off and he got a tryout with the Apollos. He signed with the Browns in 2019.
He was asked about his 40 time that may have kept him off NFL teams’ radars initially.
“I don’t know what happened that day. I don’t know, but 4.8, man? I know I’m faster than that,” he said with a big smile on his face. “I know I’m a lot faster than 4.8. Linemen run 4.8,” to the laughs of reporters.