Though the Lions‘ record sits at 3-9-1 and playing for pride is at the top of the stipulations in Detroit’s remaining games, Johnson wants to return following a trip to injured reserve due to a meniscus injury.
“For me, as stupid as some people might see it, I like to play, man,” Johnson said Friday, via the team website. “I did all this work in the offseason and did all this work in the summer and I didn’t do it to play five games.
“Obviously my goal every year is to play a full season. Two seasons down and I’m 0-for-2, but getting to seven or eight (games played this year) is better than where I’m at right now. I just like to play. I like to be out there with these guys. I like for these guys to see me play and be able to count on me and it’s just what I love to do.”
Johnson missed the final six games of his rookie season in 2018, but came back well from that knee injury this year. In a half-dozen games this year prior to his injury, Johnson had 308 yards on 92 carries (3.3 yards per carry) with a pair of touchdowns.
When Johnson went down, it was almost a different season for Detroit, which stood at 2-3-1. A week later, the Lions won for the last time so far in 2019.
A Johnson return is supported by his second-year coach Matt Patricia.
“I think there is value anytime you can play an NFL football game,” Patricia said. “Especially young guys that need that experience, and just to be able to put yourself in a situation where maybe the last game you played is a shorter space between the next game you’re going to play next season. I think that’s always good.
“When you’re in a situation where you haven’t played maybe in several weeks, here toward the end of the season, if you can get back out there and play and get your mind set back in that frame, I think it just helps you push into next season a little bit better.”
Injuries have decimated the Lions this season and their playoff hopes disappeared long ago, but there are games still left to play and Johnson is aiming to play in them.