Wide Receiver Darius Johnson Impressing Early

Scott Cunningham

The undrafted wide receiver dropped a pass on third-and-2 and fumbled a catch in the 4th quarter. Yet he was still one of the more impressive Atlanta Falcons on the Thursday night game against the New Orleans Saints. Whether or not that says more about Johnson or the Falcons, the diminutive rookie pass catcher has earned more chances this season.

Johnson owned Saints cornerback Corey White so badly he was eventually benched. The wide receiver entered the game with ten career catches but added six catches for 67 yards. His quickness was on display early against New Orleans when he quickly beat single coverage across the middle and grabbed short passes from Matt Ryan.

This was a pretty impressive display for a team otherwise lacking impressive displays. If Johnson wasn't catching the ball the offense was usually struggling.

You should be impressed. This guy was on the practice squad just a month ago. Here is what the Atlanta Falcons said about Johnson on October 19th:

Johnson, 5-10, 175 pounds, was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent out of Southern Methodist following the 2013 NFL Draft. He led the Falcons with 13 catches for 158 yards and one touchdown during the preseason. Johnson was named the MVP in back-to-back bowl games for the SMU Mustangs, including the 2011 BVAA Compass Bowl after posting seven catches for 120 yards with one touchdown in a win over Pittsburgh.

Just a week after Mike Smith benched five draft picks another undrafted free agent stepped up and put together a nice performance. While undrafted linebackers Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu were forced into the lineup early, Johnson is finally shining.

In fact, James Rael said last month that Johnson could pick apples from an orange tree and make the best lemonade you have ever had. Now I wonder if that could turn into the most fantastic whiskey sour ever created.

After a few more similar performances, preferably without the costly fumble, Johnson can be player Atlanta needs this season: busting through single coverage on short, quick passes. At this point it looks like Johnson has solidified playing in three-wide receiver sets and should develop into a quality pass catcher sooner rather than later.

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