Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said safety Jeron Johnson, who played 49 snaps last week vs. the Patriots, could have an expanded role moving forward.*
Jeron Johnson signed with the Redskins this offseason as a free agent who could bring with him some of the swagger of the Seattle Seahawks' vaunted "Legion of Boom" secondary.
As a key backup to Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, Johnson saw exactly what it took to play in a defensive backfield that brought it every single play, as the Seahawks would win the Super Bowl in the 2013 season and narrowly lost in the Super Bowl the following year.
But a hamstring injury suffered in training camp this summer placed Johnson behind the eight ball, and others — including Duke Ihenacho and Trenton Robinson — were given the opportunity to showcase their value at the strong safety spot.
Even after Ihenacho was lost for the year Week 1 with a wrist injury, it was Robinson, and not Johnson, who was given the opportunity to start in a move head coach Jay Gruden said was more a reflection of Robinson's strong play than anything Johnson did or didn't do.
But at the halfway mark of the season, Johnson has proven to be a consistent performer in practices and on special teams, and as the Redskins work through some tackling issues, Gruden says he wants to give Johnson the opportunity to showcase what he can do.
Johnson, a fifth-year Boise State product, played 49 snaps last Sunday in Washington's loss against the New England Patriots, and could be in line for even more action beginning Sunday against the New Orleans Saints at FedExField.
"He's a consistent performer," Gruden said."He's a smart kid and a good tackler. We thought he deserved the right to play and he played pretty well for the time that he did play."
Johnson tallied six tackles against the Patriots, a performance in which he saw a foundation he can build on moving forward.
Check out these top photos from the Washington Redskins' 2015 Week 9 matchup against the New England Patriots Nov. 8, 2015, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
"I had some good plays," Johnson said this week. "I had some plays I could've done better, but that's football, that's life. Just got to get better every time, every time you're on the field, every rep you take. You got to try and do it better then you did it the time before."
Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry has in recent weeks harped the importance of sound tackling as his defense works through some issues stopping the run.
Barry knows Johnson has been patiently waiting for this opportunity, and certainly won't be afraid to make some hits for the defense.
"I tip to my hat to Jeron," Barry said. "He's earned the right to play and he'll continue to play, no doubt."
The task doesn't get any easier for Johnson and the Redskins defense on Sunday, as quarterback Drew Brees brings the league's No. 1 offense to FedExField.
Johnson said Brees will make his plays — "Drew Brees is gonna be Drew Brees," he added — but knows their job is to limit the big plays on the back end while being stingy against running back Mark Ingram up front.
"We just got to come out with our A-game, play disciplined football — play ruthless football — and just be sound on our techniques and tackling," Johnson said.