Training Camp Heroes come along as often as the RTA buses in Public Square. It’s one thing to look good in practice, it’s another to do it in a game. That’s why Charles Johnson was a breath of fresh air for a position that’s stunk of a rotten stench ever since news broke of Josh Gordon‘s impending suspension last May.
Johnson caught three balls for 30 yards against the Lions. Two came from Johnny Manziel, and any play that helps the future of the franchise has to get the 2013 seventh-round pick some extra looks from his coaches.
Johnson also showed a knack for running after the catch, taking a third-quarter screen pass 15 yards for a first down.
With Gordon facing a lengthly suspension, the receiving corps needs players who can create-and Johson showed he has the capability.
That Johnson can make plays after the catch shouldn’t be overlooked, because the Browns won’t have a receiver with that skillset once Gordon is suspended.
Gordon had 1,646 yards in 2013, with 641 of those coming after the catch. That was the fifth best total in the NFL. His average “YAC” averaged out to an average of 7.3 yards.
In 2012, the Browns receivers outside of Gordon were disappointing (This analysis doesn’t include Jordan Cameron because it’s really not in his job description to rack up yardage after hauling in passes).
Greg Little averaged a 4.6 YAC, while Devone Bess’ YAC was 3.5. Those former Browns ranked 124th and 153rd respectively in total yards after the catch, not averages.
Johnson followed up his big game with a stellar practice Monday afternoon.
At 6-2, 215 pounds, Johnson looks the part of an NFL wideout, and his stock is rising, according to ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grosi.
“I think he’s got to keep it up,” Grossi said of Johnson on his “Hey Tony” broadcast. “He’s got to build on that. He’s got to catch just about everything within his grasp…I’d say the odds are trending up for him.”