Matt Johnson hopes he can prove his worth

OXNARD, Calif. -- Second-year safety Matt Johnson knows the dreaded injury-prone label has been slapped on him.

That was already true after what was essentially a redshirt rookie season, when hamstring and back injuries limited the fourth-round pick to a handful of practices. The knock just got a little louder when Johnson had to leave the Hall of Fame Game due to a stress reaction in a bone in his foot.

“I haven’t proved myself not to be [injury-prone] in the NFL,” said Johnson, who hopes to return to practice Monday. “I didn’t miss a game in college until I had to get shoulder surgery my senior year. I feel like maybe it’s just bad luck, bad timing, all that stuff. But obviously I haven’t proved myself able to stay on the field in the NFL.

“It kind of sucks, but I can’t prove otherwise until I get back on the field.”

The Cowboys are enamored by the 6-foot-1, 212-pound Johnson’s potential to be a big-hitting playmaker, but patience could be wearing thin with his health issues. He’s well aware that injuries could cost him a roster spot.

“Nothing is given to anybody, and I haven’t been out here enough to prove [anything],” Johnson said. “I didn’t prove my worth last year. I played, whatever, 20 snaps in a game this year. I just want to get out here and prove myself more than anything.”