Updated August 18, 2022 - 4:25 pm
The spectacular plays have always been there for Raiders wide receiver Tyron Johnson and are the reason he made it to the NFL.
It’s the other plays that are going to keep him in the league.
“Everybody knows he’s fast, but it takes a lot more than being fast to play in our league at that position,” coach Josh McDaniels said of his explosive playmaker. “When you get to September, you have to be able to do those things repetitively at a very high level.
“There’s a really good play. Now let’s stack another really good play on it, then another. Now let’s go to another period and do it again.”
Johnson has been making the spectacular look routine as he has continued to generate buzz at training camp. It’s all part of the plan to show he can be as consistent as he is eye-popping in bursts.
“You can make a great play, but what does your worst play look like?” Johnson said. “Is it close to that or does it just fall off the map? At the end of the day, I just want to be as close to perfect as I can.
“Being a fast guy, that’s all people talk about, ‘He’s fast, he’s fast.’ At the end of the day, I just want to have the overall game as far as route-running, route depth, blocking. I want to showcase that I can do a lot more things than just speed.”
But speed is definitely the calling card of the 26-year-old New Orleans native and Oklahoma State alum referred to by everyone who knows him as “T-Billy.” Johnson ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at his Pro Day in 2019, which led to four organizations taking a shot on him by placing him on their practice squad in his rookie season.
“I mean, that has set me apart since I have been in this league, just being faster than guys and being able to get from point A to point B quicker than them,” Johnson said. “That has always been the advantage I have, but I’m just trying to add more to my game so I can separate even more.”
Johnson finally caught on with the Chargers in his second season, catching a 53-yard touchdown pass on his only target in his NFL debut.
Each of his first three career catches went for more than 50 yards, but they were the only three receptions he had in his first seven games.
Johnson finished that year with 20 catches and three touchdowns only to be released before the start of the 2021 season. He played five games with Jacksonville last season before being released and catching on with the Raiders. Johnson appeared in six contests, including the playoff game, mostly seeing action on special teams.
He was not targeted in the passing game but hopes to find a bigger role this season. To do that, he knows what needs to be done.
“I think I’m pretty close,” he said. “I’m working at it every day. Josh is on me about it. He wants me to be consistent and dependable. … that’s what I try to do.”
Johnson knows if he can continue on that course, he may finally be able to plant roots after a couple of well-traveled seasons.
“I want to be here,” he said. “I want to make this team.”
His odds increased Tuesday when the team released free-agent signee Demarcus Robinson, one of the main roadblocks between Johnson and a roster spot.
The play of Johnson and other receivers like DJ Turner made that decision a bit easier for McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. But Johnson has learned from his time in the league that nothing is guaranteed.
“When you’re not that one, two or three guy, you have to play special teams,” he said “It’s mandatory to make the team. So I’m just as focused as I am on the offense. I am that dialed in on special teams because that may be my route to the team.”