Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
2. Rufus Johnson
It’s pretty amazing that Johnson has carved himself out a roster spot among a loaded defensive end group of mainstays Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, promising rookies Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom and free agent addition Jabaal Sheard. Not many expected the Pats to carry six linebackers, so Johnson must have really made an impression on the Patriots’ coaching staff despite missing much of the preseason with an injury.
Before signing with the Patriots late last season, Johnson had spent a little over one year in New Orleans. He is the only player from Tarleton State to ever be drafted.
Here’s what New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia had to say about Johnson on Friday, according to Phil Perry of CSNNE.com:
"Yeah, I think Rufus has really tried to do a good job for us here in training camp. He’s a long guy, he’s a strong guy, he’s explosive, so he certainly has been able to flash some things that hopefully we can use. He’s going to have to continue to keep showing that he can do that and work on it and be productive. I think he’s done a good job of trying to put his skill set out there. Like I said, he’s explosive, he’s long, he’s strong and he can create some problems for an opponent just with his combination of skill set. Still obviously has a long way to go, and we’ll try to do what we can to get him better."
Johnson has worn an unorthodox No. 70 for a linebacker this preseason. That will change by Week 1.
Next: 1. Michael Williams