Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Rookie surprise: Giants CB Bruce Johnson
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Former Miami Hurricanes cornerback Bruce Johnson had to endure the frustration of not being drafted after once being projected as an early- to mid-round prospect. He didn't wow anyone at the combine and he was barely a top-30 corner heading into the draft.
| ||AP Photo/Jeff Roberson|
| ||Bruce Johnson returned his only interception of the season 34 yards for a touchdown.|
But when I arrived in Albany, N.Y., in August, Johnson was constantly making plays in training camp. You could tell right away that he was better than sixth-round draft choice DeAndre Wright -- and Tom Coughlin found a spot on the 53-man roster for him. With Kevin Dockery slowed by a hamstring injury, Johnson became the nickel corner to start the season. He had a forced fumble in his first regular-season game against the Redskins and he followed that up with a pick-six against the Cowboys the following week.
On the interception against the Cowboys, he lured Tony Romo into thinking he was in one-on-one coverage with Roy Williams and then he bailed out at the last second and jumped underneath an out route that Patrick Crayton was running. It was a veteran move by an undrafted rookie -- and he raced to the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 10-7 lead in the first quarter.
The Eagles have a fifth-round draft pick named Victor "Macho" Harris who's already cracked the starting lineup at free safety, but I think Johnson had made the bigger impact early in the season. Dockery has returned to the lineup, but I don't think he'll be able to hold off Johnson for long. Johnson's just a very heady player who Coughlin already has a lot of faith in.
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The only thing I've seen him do wrong is get confused on a route the Chiefs ran near the Giants' goal line. On that play, Michael Boley raced back and broke up the pass. Johnson already has eight tackles, three pass deflections, a forced fumble and an interception. I don't think this is beginner's luck.