Big quarterback, big impression

Minicamp easy compared to ‘grade school kids’ for free agent Jerrod Johnson

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comMay 13, 2013 

RENTON — Working his way up a cluttered quarterback depth chart will challenge Jerrod Johnson, but in the Seattle Seahawks’ three-day rookie/tryout minicamp, he seemed calm and mostly unfazed by the constant harassment of on-rushing defenders.

He was conditioned to unrelenting pressure during his time away from football by the demands of one of his off-the-field jobs: Teaching PE in an elementary school.

“The grade school kids were harder than any defense I’ve ever seen,” Johnson said Sunday afternoon after the final workout of the minicamp.

He also wrote stories and broadcast on a Texas A&M website when he returned to his alma mater. He displayed a natural aptitude for sportswriting when he identified the main drawback of the job: “Too much editing.”

Johnson will be trying to author a dramatic comeback story, having had chances in training camps with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh but never landing on a roster. A shoulder injury in college led to problems with his delivery mechanics that he thinks have been corrected.

At any rate, he’s obviously a gifted specimen at 6-5, 250 pounds.

“He did a nice job running the club and was able to give us a little expertise out there,” coach Pete Carroll said of Johnson. “He’s got a very good arm, can really gun the football down the field. He’s got a presence and he’s such a big guy in the pocket. He’s bright and he’s handled stuff really well.”

Johnson teamed up with rookie fourth-round draft pick Chris Harper on a 45-yard touchdown pass in a team session that might have been the best play of the day.

“It feels good to get back out there in a helmet, in the thick of things with the guys out on the field,” Johnson said. “Any opportunity to play football is a good opportunity, so I was just thankful for that and tried to make the most of it.”

Russell Wilson, an NFL “sophomore,” has locked up the quarterback position, with free agent Brady Quinn brought on board, and former Seahawk Josh Portis brought back as depth.

In his camp summation Sunday afternoon, Carroll seemed most pleased that all the draft picks “looked like they fit into the role that we hoped for,” while adding they all still had “a million miles to go.”

He cited the play of both defensive tackles drafted, Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams, who caused problems all weekend for the green offensive linemen. The most pleasant surprise, Carroll said, was that those two big guys showed up in good condition and were not “taxed by the work load.”

Two other drafted players he thought were ready to get thrown into the mix during offseason training activities that start next week were receiver Harper and tight end Luke Willson.

“He’s a big, solid dude like we thought,” Carroll said of the 6-1, 234-pound Harper. “He really has great hands. He did very well and learned very well, too. He’ll be competing … we won’t hesitate to throw him in.”

Asked if any of the undrafted guys flashed surprising talent, Carroll named Idaho defensive end Benson Mayowa, who showed good speed and nice cornering ability on his pass rushes.

But, as Carroll said, the Seahawks have become “a very difficult team to make.”

“We’ve got some big decisions to make to figure out how we’re going to round out the roster,” he said.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling

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