Johnson Settling In Well In Second Season

Posted Dec 26, 2013

Trumaine Johnson would be the first to acknowledge that his rookie year in the NFL was more than a slight bit of an adjustment.

“My head was running everywhere,” Johnson said, in describing the transition to the professional game.

Considering his first NFL assignment, understanding Johnson’s perspective becomes a bit simpler. Johnson received a trial-by-fire introduction to the NFL as a rookie, as he was tasked with defending Detroit’s Calvin Johnson—the league’s leading receiver in 2012—in his first professional game.

The veteran receiver grabbed six passes for 111 yards against Johnson and the Rams that day, but the second-year cornerback made quick progress in the weeks following that not-so-typical initiation. In his fourth game, he grabbed in first career interception to help key a 19-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks. He completed his rookie season with two interceptions and eight passes defensed in 16 games, including three starts.

Under the tutelage of secondary coach Chuck Cecil, Johnson’s game has quickly advanced after taking over for an injured Cortland Finnegan as one of the team’s two starting corners just four games into this year.

“I’m just way more comfortable now,” Johnson said. “In my rookie year, I got a chance to start a few games, but here, you can learn something every day. I’m just way more comfortable. “With Cecil and Coach (Jeff) Fisher, being my second year with them and knowing what to expect, it just makes it a lot easier in Year Two,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who has started 11 of the Rams’ 15 games in his second year, has posted career-bests in nearly every statistical category. His three interceptions are a team-best, and has shown a penchant for creating the key turnover, a knack he exemplified with a red zone interception of Drew Brees in the first quarter of the Rams’ 27-16 win over New Orleans on Dec. 15. He also hauled in a red zone interception in the Rams’ 38-8 win over Indianapolis in Week 10.

“He’s come around (and) he’s got a much better feel,” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said. “Technique’s much improved over last year. He’s anticipating things and he’s got two huge red zone stops for us.”

Johnson is part of a youthful secondary that includes second year players Rodney McLeod and Janoris Jenkins, as well as rookie S T. J. McDonald. Despite McDonald missing time due to injury and Johnson beginning the season as the team’s third corner, the group has combined for seven of the team’s 14 interceptions and 36 passes defensed in 2013. Though they entered the season with just three years of NFL experience between them, the quartet has given plenty of reason to be optimistic in the Rams’ secondary of the future.

“We’re young right now, but we’re coming in together,” Johnson said. “I know those guys, what they can do, and now we can build off of it.”