Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Johnson finished: Packers have been there, done that
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When the Green Bay Packers lost Joe
Johnson for the season last October, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila stepped
in and had a career year.
There's no obvious replacement this time around.
Johnson needs surgery to repair a torn thigh muscle, and his
season -- and maybe his career -- is over. He was placed on injured
reserve Wednesday and nose tackle Terdell Sands took his roster
"It's a tough hit," linebacker Na'il Diggs said. "We've got
to get guys who are hurt healthy."
Although Johnson was the starter, the truth is the Packers
wouldn't miss him if backups Aaron Kampman or Chukie Nwokorie
weren't also ailing.
Kampman has missed four games with a sprained left ankle and
Nwokorie has a left shoulder injury that might require postseason
Both players were rusty at practice Wednesday but said they felt
Other possible replacements include tackles Rod Walker, Kenny
Peterson, Larry Smith and Cletidus Hunt, although the Packers are
leery of moving Hunt to the edge because of his value inside.
Last year, Johnson had season-ending surgery to repair a torn
left triceps tendon after registering just eight solo tackles,
seven assists and two sacks in five games.
This year, he had seven solo tackles, one assist and no sacks in
six games while battling gout, a sore Achilles' tendon and a right
triceps injury before tearing the quadriceps above his right knee
Johnson, 33, has been the biggest bust in Green Bay since Tony
Mandarich, providing next to nothing for the six-year, $33 million
deal he signed before last season.
Johnson, who counts $3.5 million against the team's salary cap
this year, will have collected $10 million from the Packers by
"We never got to see him in the last two years really get to
where he was comfortable because he was banged up," defensive
coordinator Ed Donatell said.
If the Packers cut Johnson before June 1, they must charge $4.33
million of his $6.5 million bonus against the 2004 cap. If they cut
him after June 1, he'll count $1.083 million next year and $3.5
million in '05.
Coach and general manager Mike Sherman was grilled at his weekly
news conference about Johnson's injury history.
When a reporter recited a long list of injuries Johnson had
while with the New Orleans Saints, including a dislocated kneecap,
ruptured disk in his back, torn patella tendon and damaged triceps,
Sherman said: "I'm familiar with that."
"Obviously, there was a medical history, as there is with most
defensive linemen at his age," Sherman said.
But Johnson passed his physical and the team was satisfied his
health was fine after interviews and a review of his 2001 season,
He maintained Johnson's injuries in Green Bay "were not the
result of previous injuries," although the injury that knocked
Johnson out last year was to the same muscle that had bothered him
almost all of 2001.
"I've never said I wouldn't make mistakes," Sherman said.
"I've never claimed to be omnipotent, all-knowing, and I will make
mistakes and will make them in the future.
"Hopefully, I can minimize them as much as possible. I very
seldom make the same mistake twice in my career. I learn, and
that's what's happened here."