Getting any kind of commitment from an NFL head coach prior to roster cutdowns is a miracle. This is not to criticize Pat Shurmur. There is a lot of football and a lot of moving pieces between now and the opening week against the Philadelphia Eagles. One piece that won’t be moving is Scott Fujita serving his suspension. One of the biggest questions the Browns needed to answer this training camp – even before Chris Gocong’s injury – was who would start in Fujita’s place during his three game suspension. According to Pat Shurmur today, it seems like James-Michael Johnson is on track.
(On if James-Michael Johnson is ready to start at linebacker if they don’t have Scott Fujita)- “I think the production that he has given us in the games so far points to the fact that he may be a starter for us this year. He has a chance. Again, I don’t want to make any proclamations at this point, but I think he will continue to improve as well. I said it after the game, but I thought that young linebacking core did an outstanding job against Green Bay.”
(On Johnson has progressed through training camp)- “He’s getting better. I think you see his run fits are better. He matches up better in coverage. He runs to the ball extremely well. I think as he dives in on the match-ups of the team we’re playing, and can pick up little pointers as to whether it’s run-pass, or where they’re going with the football, he’ll even be better.”
Johnson looked good and active in the game against Green Bay. It’s just a pre-season game, but that’s great news for the Browns and Browns fans. It sure beats the alternative. Plus, if it translates well into the regular season, it would be quite a score to get such quick value from a 4th round draft pick (120th overall) in his first season in the league.