Over the past couple of weeks, Roschon Johnson has started to finally earn the rep share that many expected earlier in the summer. We’ve seen the rookie running back playing more with the first team, playing more in situational drills– just playing more, period. The seemingly obvious explanation was that once the pads came on, and the Bears started playing real football in preseason games, Johnson could really show what he could do as a physical runner. In reality, the Bears were looking for something else before giving him higher leverage reps.
"Consistency. Just consistency," said running backs coach David Walker. "That’s with everybody, just being consistent with what you do and doing your job at a high level, whatever opportunities you get. Then the more you do, the more we’re going to try to get you involved. So he’s earned all the opportunities he’s gotten. We had kind of a rotation that we were going through, but he’s earned his reps."
In fact, the physicality Johnson has shown recently hasn’t surprised the Bears at all. They expected it. Walker and the Bears watched enough tape of Johnson at Texas to feel confident they’d see the same player when they finally put the pads on this summer, and they weren’t disappointed.
"Some people are going to look better in shorts when you’re out there in OTAs and some guys are going to look better when the pads come on and you really play football," said Walker. "That’s who he is.
"He– we– try to play a physical style of football on our offense, whether it’s the offensive line, our backs or receivers, so he plays in the style that we want here in Chicago. We would like to be violent with the ball in our hands as we attack people. We’ve shown that ability.”
The Bears and Walker went to Texas to work out Johnson before the draft. They used that time to learn more about him as a person and fell in love. After the team selected him in the fourth round, scouts raved about his off-the-field qualities and touted him as a potential cornerstone to uphold the culture Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles want to build. By all accounts, Johnson’s delivering in that department, too.
"He’s got a great work ethic," said fellow running back D’Onta Foreman. "Just kinda getting to know him, to see what he’s about as a person, I really enjoy the person, Roschon. But also, football player, same thing. Works hard, runs hard. Just a well-rounded guy, period. Really enjoy being around him and just seeing that everything that people said about him coming out of Texas, he’s the same guy."
"Probably the best thing he’s done: his attention to detail in terms of the playbook, in terms of the little coaching points we put on certain plays," said Walker. "He’s been right on top of that stuff. That’s good to see from a young guy."