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WR Stevie Johnson a 'money player' in Chargers' offense

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WR Stevie Johnson emerging as playmaker in Chargers' offense (0:57)

ESPN NFL Nation Chargers beat reporter Eric D. Williams discusses receiver Stevie Johnson's development as a go-to receiver in San Diego's offense. (0:57)

SAN DIEGO – Through two weeks, it’s no surprise that Keenan Allen emerged as the go-to receiver for San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Allen leads San Diego with 21 targets through two games, totaling 17 receptions for 182 yards.

However, San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich said slot receiver Stevie Johnson commands just as much attention from Rivers in the offense.

“He’s not just a complementary receiver; he’s a money player for us,” Reich said. “This guy has No. 1 qualities. He has those playmaker qualities that you look for, and that a quarterback looks for.

“When we signed him, we all knew what we had. We watched the film.”

Johnson has 11 catches for 127 yards on 12 targets so far this season -- good enough for the highest wide receiver reception percentage in the NFL according to ESPN Stats & Information. Rivers has two touchdowns and no interceptions when passing to Johnson.

With tight end Ladarius Green’s availability in question doe to his second concussion in two weeks, Johnson should see plenty of opportunities in the middle of the field for the Chargers on the road against the Minnesota Vikings.

What has been so impressive for Reich is Johnson’s willingness to quickly learn San Diego’s complex offense, and his ability to consistently create separation.

Reich said Johnson is one of the hardest-working receivers he ever has been around, and that’s saying something because he coached Larry Fitzgerald while serving as the Arizona Cardinals receivers coach and worked with Reggie Wayne as an offensive assistant for the Indianapolis Colts.

“He’s so instinctual,” Reich said about Johnson. “He’s getting close to the same zip code as Antonio Gates, where he just understands leverage. And he understands that in order to create windows for the quarterback to throw in, you’ve got to know how to create leverage for your advantage.

“He knows how to do that. And it’s something that you can’t really teach. I mean you can talk about it and teach it a little bit, but he has it naturally, kind of like Antonio.”

Reich and the Chargers like that Johnson has the mindset of a No. 1 receiver because of his time with the Buffalo Bills, when he put together three straight, 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 2010 to 2012.

But Johnson understands there’s still room for improvement.

“I’m still in that mindset of working to get better than yesterday,” Johnson said. “I feel like I can do more, but at the same time I feel like I’m progressing. I’m not going backwards.”