Morning Roar: George Johnson impressing

He first showed up in April as almost a veteran afterthought on the defensive line. He had not been much of a contributor yet in the NFL out of Rutgers, the Detroit Lions had signed another defensive end earlier in free agency and also would end up drafting one in May.

So George Johnson's chances of making Detroit's roster seemed fairly minimal.

Then Johnson started playing, and with an opportunity for reps available because of Ezekiel Ansah's recovery from shoulder surgery, he kept making plays. By training camp, he started running with the Lions' first-team defensive line as Ansah continued to rehab. Now, with final roster cuts less than a week away, Johnson might end up sticking on the final roster as the team's fourth defensive end.

"George has quickness, he has explosion, he's long, he's linear," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "I think he's really just scratching the surface of where he's is because he changed his body type. He was much heavier, he's trimmed down and I think he's at his natural weight now.

"We're excited about it. As a matter of fact, Jim Washburn from the onset when he saw him rush the passer, even in non-padded days, thought he could be pretty special."

Special might be a bit of hyperbole right now. Ansah should replace him in the lineup by the start of the regular season, and the combination of Jason Jones and Devin Taylor will likely start over him at closed end on the opposite side.

But making a NFL roster? After 11 games played over his first four NFL seasons, with only seven tackles to his credit, as a June signee, making the 53-man roster as a rotational defensive end would be pretty special for Johnson. Of that, there is no doubt at all.

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