For 13 days, the future was unclear for Delvin Johnson.
Despite a strong preseason showing for the Washington Redskins, Johnson — an undrafted rookie nose tackle out of Marshall — was released Aug. 31 in the team’s final round of cuts due to an already-crowded and talented Redskins defensive line.
Johnson understood the business side of being released, but hoped another team would come calling.
That team, it ended up, was the Redskins.
Johnson was signed to Washington’s practice squad on Sept. 12 — something he definitely didn’t see coming.
“It was unexpected, really,” Johnson said. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity they’re giving me to come back.”
Johnson was able to put together several highlight plays on tape during the Redskins’ preseason games, when he recorded six tackles, 1.5 sacks and a deflected pass. He said he had extra motivation after going undrafted following a solid senior season at Marshall that included 42 tackles (10.5 for loss) and two sacks.
“You know, being an undrafted free agent, I didn’t go to the combine, I feel like I’ve got a lot to prove,” Johnson said. “So I try to play the game with a little chip on my shoulder.”
Johnson said he also felt more in his element while playing against an actual opponent and not against his own team’s offensive linemen in practice each day.
“Getting to let loose against guys that I don’t normally practice against, it’s a totally different situation,” he said. “So I just go out there and have fun and play the game like I know how to play it.”
Johnson (who now wears No. 93 after wearing No. 79 during the preseason) also wasn’t shy discussing his strong feelings for Redskins defensive line coach Jacob Burney, whose even-keeled and, at times, tough-love approach is highly respected along the D-line.
“Coach Burney, man, I love him,” Johnson said. “He’s just been like another man in my life. He always gives me good advice, and we can talk about anything. When I got cut, it was a real sad situation, and I think he felt the same.”
Sure, Johnson was upset after being released by the Redskins, but he’s happy to be back and to be absorbing the veteran leadership around him.
“You look at guys like Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Adam [Carriker], Kedric [Golston] — it’s amazing,” Johnson said. “I’m young and I just see how they do things and I try to take the same professional approach. It’s just great to be a part of that.”
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