Packers Rookie Could Go From Inactive to Starter - Sport News

Packers Rookie Could Go From Inactive to Starter

Green Bay Packers rookie Anthony Johnson is ready to roll if tasked with making his first NFL start on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

Packers Rookie Could Go From Inactive to Starter

That would be Anthony Johnson Jr., the safety from Iowa State, and not Anthony Johnson, the practice squad cornerback from Virginia.

“We were at the Combine together and everybody was confused,” Johnson said on Friday. “It trailed over a little bit here. People had their fun with, ‘Hey, Anthony. Hey, Anthony,’ and which one they were talking to. It’s pretty cool. He’s a great guy.”

Inactive for each of the first five games this season, “Ant” Johnson has played four defensive snaps in each of the last two games. With one veteran starter, Darnell Savage, on injured reserve and the other veteran starter, Rudy Ford, questionable with a calf injury that kept him out of Friday’s practice, there’s a chance Johnson could be in the starting lineup.

He’s ready, he said, because he’s kept himself ready.

“I prepare to start each and every week just by how I go about my business,” he said. “If you’re not preparing to win or preparing to start, then you’re preparing to lose. At any moment in time, your opportunity might come.

Hardly playing – or not playing at all – has been strange. At Iowa State, he started a school-record 54 games. That includes 53 consecutive starts to end his career. He started at cornerback in 2019, 2020 and 2021 before shifting to safety in 2022.

Johnson made his NFL debut against Denver, logging four snaps on defense and 11 on special teams. It was similar last week against Minnesota, with four snaps on defense and seven on special teams.

“Even when I wasn’t active, I was still getting the call and going through checks. I was playing the game on the sideline. I wasn’t standing back with everybody. I was playing the game on the sideline so that when I do get an opportunity, I can step in and the defense doesn’t skip a beat and I know the flow of the game.”

Johnson didn’t know quite what to expect what he arrived in Green Bay. At safety, Savage was an obvious starter but the other spot, manned the previous four seasons by Adrian Amos, was set to be a wide-open battle.

“Coming in as a rookie,” Johnson said, “you may hear things like, ‘Older guys won’t help you.’ That’s not what has happened here, so I’m thankful.”

Ford could be ready to play on Sunday. If he’s not ready, coach Matt LaFleur said there are “options” for filling his spot in the lineup. But, based on how the Packers handled Savage’s re-injury at Denver in Week 7 and his absence in Week 8, Johnson could be in the starting lineup.

He smiled at the possibility.

“It would mean a lot from an aspect of, man, you go from something that you dreamed about doing and then you’re there and being able to run out of the tunnel,” he said. “That would be a good part.”

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