Mike Johnson Up to Task of Creating Versatility

Mike Johnson Up to Task of Creating Versatility

Jay Adams

Published August 22, 2012 at 12:46 PM

The news that backup tackle Will Svitek would be out for the season that came earlier this week was tough to take for a lot of reasons. For a close-knit group at offensive line, it was downright devastating.

The off-field emotions of feeling for a teammate have been difficult to come to terms with, but the offensive line knows it must press on without Svitek. While rookie tackle Lamar Holmes will get his shot this week with his first preseason action, Mike Johnson is also eager to show off his skill set with a big opportunity in front of him.

Johnson, who is listed as a guard, is really a hybrid of both guard and tackle as he’s been cross-training at both positions. The thought is that Johnson’s versatility is going to keep the Falcons deep at O-line.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Johnson said of his comfort at the two positions. “I’ve been working almost since the start of training camp doing both the first couple of weeks, and then here in the last couple of weeks I’ve been playing mostly tackle and playing only tackle in games. It’s getting better. Hopefully I’ll just continue to grow as the weeks go by.”

With cross-training comes several differences as each position comes with different nuances — from timing to footwork to responsibility, every position is just a little bit different. Johnson having tackle experience from college certainly helps the situation, but he’s been working hard at re-adjusting to the position with offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn.

The additional position work has been good for Johnson, the offensive line and the team.

“When I started at tackle, it was to create a little more versatility just in case something like this happened,” Johnson said. “Now that it has, I’ve just got to go after it that much harder. ‘Accountability’ has been a big word (for us), so hopefully this team can believe in me at tackle and go forward from here.”

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