Found August 31, 2013 on
Football and Futbol:
Going into the 2012 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys decided one of their biggest needs was the safety position. The only question was long should they wait before drafting one? In the end, they selected Matt Johnson in the fourth round. Enamored by his reputation as a “ball-hawk”, the Cowboys took the undersized safety out of Washington with the hope that his nose for the ball would create turnovers in the secondary as it had with the Huskies.
But by the time training camp began Johnson was already hampered by a lingering hamstring injury that would ultimately keep him off of the practice field for several weeks of the season. In the end, the team had no choice but to place the rookie on IR and hope the best for his sophomore season. Fans had expected more from the gifted safety, and rightfully so. Going into training camp the Cowboys were thin at safety, and quickly became thinner by cutting Brodney Pool after the veteran failed his conditioning test. Many thought he could even compete for a starting job and lineup alongside fellow unproven safety Barry Church, who the team was really wowed by in camp. Obviously that never happened. Johnson never saw a minute of game time, be it at safety or on special teams and Church suffered a season ending achilles injury in the third game of the season. The team went on to finish another season with a disappointing 8-8 record and miss the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Coming into camp this year, there was a lot of pressure on Johnson to prove he could stay healthy and really contribute on the active roster. The safety had said he believed his hamstring injuries were a thing of the past and that he’d worked harder in the offseason on his strength and conditioning to ensure it. But despite the claim, the story seems to have remained the same. When the Cowboys took the field against the Miami Dolphins in the Hall of Fame game, Johnson got his ankle and foot rolled up while tackling a Dolphins receiver on a big gain down the sideline. Though he was initially listed as “day-to-day” on the injury report, Johnson couldn’t seem to get back on the field without suffering a stress reaction, thereby forcing the Cowboys hand and landing the safety again on the IR list.
The rules of the Injured Reserve list state that a player can only be activated later the same season they were listed if they’ve been on the game day roster for one day of the season. And seeing as how we’re a little more than a week away from the Sunday night opener, it’s safe to say that Johnson won’t see the field any time this season.
The question now is whether or not the Cowboys can, or should, continue to be patient with oft-injured Johnson. On one hand, it’s hard to label the kid injury-prone when he’s only had a couple seasons in the league. Players get nicked up, it’s the nature of the game. And sometimes those injuries take time to heal; just ask Sean Lee or Bruce Carter. Too small of a sample size? How about Demarco Murray or Dez Bryant, Miles Austin or Demarcus Ware? Yes, yes, I know, all of those other players at least got ON the field at some point and contributed, but patience is the key thing here. I’m not ready to call for Matt Johnson’s head yet, but one thing has certainly been established in his young career: Matt Johnson is far from a safe bet.
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