For the first time in nearly a month, Johnson was a full participant at practice. Johnson missed San Diego’s last two games with a hamstring injury.
“I feel great,” Johnson said. “Obviously, missing the last two games was tough. But the bye week for me fell at a perfect time, considering the injuries I had, and the amount of time I needed to heal. It was perfect. So I felt great today.”
Johnson is tied for the team lead in sacks with three. He noticed an improvement from San Diego defensively on third down while watching from the sidelines.
The Chargers have held teams to 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) on third down the past two games.
“I just like the energy that we are playing with,” Johnson said “We seem to be playing better on third down. And any time you’re playing better on third down, it’s easier to build momentum and get excited.
“When you have long drives that are ending in field goals, a few touchdowns here and there, and you’re not playing as well on third down, you kind of feel like you get bogged down. When you start getting off of the field more, you get excited -- a big quarterback hit, or maybe a sack or whatever -- there’s more energy, and that’s what I saw the last two weeks that I was out. That’s what I was really fired up about, and I’m anxious to get in there and join them.”
San Diego coach Mike McCoy said he’s taking a wait-and-see approach to Butler’s injury. The University of Washington product has missed the last two games.
“Donald knows his body better than anybody else,” McCoy said. “As soon as he’s ready to get out there and feel like he can cut it loose, he’ll be out there. He’s got to be able to come out there and cut it loose. You don’t want a player to come out there and be hesitant in what they’re doing. So when he feels like he can go full speed, he’ll be out there.”
McCoy said it was good to see Rinehart back on the practice field. The Chargers starting left guard to start the season, Rinehart missed the last four games with a toe injury.
“He’s getting there,” McCoy said. “He’s working extremely hard to get back out there. He had a little rust out there today, and that’s all part of the process he’s been going through.”
Johnnie Troutman has started in Rinehart’s absence. So if Rinehart is healthy, does he get his job back at left guard?
“I’ll let you know on Sunday,” McCoy said.