Matt Johnson finally practices, ends calls

IRVING, Texas -- Matt Johnson, the safety the Dallas Cowboys drafted last year and didn't play because of injuries, is happy to be practicing.

Not for just one day. But for two days. Three days even.

It's interesting to see Johnson on the practice fields at Valley Ranch after he spent his rookie season dealing with hamstring injuries, then a back problem, occurring because of his rehab from a hamstring.

Johnson is in the mix for a safety spot, though the projected starters are Barry Church and Will Allen. Johnson along with J.J. Wilcox and Danny McCray are also competing for playing time.

"I want to prove myself every day in the offseason," Johnson said. "I didn't go home and stayed here, and I hope guys noticed that. I just want to prove to them I'm going to stick around and hopefully make plays that will help them win."

While Johnson rehabbed, family and friends called him on a regular basis asking when he'll return to the field.

It drove Johnson batty.

"They were really good last year," Johnson said of some family members' inquiring about his practice availability. "Not many in my family, some friends would call and say, 'You playing this week? What's wrong?' All of that stuff. It got to the point where I didn’t want to look at my phone sometimes last year."

Johnson is now telling family and friends he's practicing.

The Cowboys believe Johnson has the potential to make plays at safety in the passing game. He didn't picked off a pass in the two days media members were allowed to watch practice -- only Wilcox did -- but it doesn't mean Johnson isn't going to have an impact.

"Hopefully, I can show [the fans], and they approve what they see," he said. "I think [being a starter] all comes down to who makes plays, and I think I'm headed in the right direction."