How can Trumaine Johnson help the Carolina Panthers in 2020?

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Trumaine Johnson
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Trumaine Johnson /

What can the Carolina Panthers expect from Trumaine Johnson after the cornerback was reportedly signed to the practice squad?

The Carolina Panthers possibly addressed their concerns at cornerback by bringing in free-agent Trumaine Johnson.

They reportedly added the veteran to their practice squad on Saturday, according to ESPN’s NFL Insider Adam Schefter, and although it is too late for Johnson to make his presence felt on the field at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. It would be a big surprise if the Carolina Panthers didn’t add him to their 53-man roster at the earliest possible opportunity.

The Carolina Panthers might give Trumaine Johnson a new lease of life.

Johnson is coming off a down year in 2019 with the New York Jets. But if he can get back to anything like his 2018 form, then the Panthers are going to have a real player on their hands.

Carolina’s coaching staff probably sought the opinion of wide receiver Robby Anderson, who was a teammate of Johnson’s and came up against him regularly at practice in recent years. The former third-round pick started just five games for the Jets last season due to injury and just how long it will take the player to get up to speed is up for debate.

If Johnson can hit the ground running in a different environment, then this has the potential to be a real steal for the Panthers. The Montana product earned a grade of 71.4 from Pro Football Focus the last time he started a consistent run of games and getting back to this sort of level would be a tremendous boost for a cornerback unit that went through their fair share of struggles in Week 1 against the Raiders.

It might take a couple of weeks for Johnson to prove he is worthy of a roster spot. Keeping yourself in top condition is one thing. But putting it all together on the field is another matter entirely.

It’s not like there is a great deal of competition at the corner spot if Johnson gets back to the player of old. Eli Apple remains on injured/reserve and although Rasul Douglas played very well when called upon last weekend, just how much the Panthers can depend on him going forward is up for debate.

This represents a significant opportunity for Johnson to prove wrong those who have written off his chances in the NFL. He boasts career stats of 23 interceptions, 74 pass deflections, 392 combined tackles, 339 solo tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. And this sort of experience might be invaluable for a group that lost some key veterans during the offseason.

Putting too much on Johnson’s shoulders early isn’t the smart way to go. He will need time to learn defensive coordinator Phil Snow’s scheme, boost his conditioning, and familiarize himself with the set-up before he is thrown in at the deep end as the campaign progresses.

The Panthers liked what they saw from Johnson’s workout this week enough to bring him in. This is a low risk, high reward pickup by the organization, and one that could reignite the player’s career in the process.

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Playing well for the Jets has not been easy for anybody not named Jamal Adams in recent years. Johnson failed to meet expectations after signing a big-money deal with the franchise. But moving to the Panthers could be the new lease of life he is looking for.