Following the news of Jalen Ramsey's minor core muscle surgery, it's fair to question the amount of depth Jacksonville has at the cornerback position.
Starting nickel cornerback Aaron Colvin was sidelined for the entirety of the offseason program with a lower leg injury. Ramsey's tag team partner on the outside, A.J. Bouye, missed the first week of organized team activities with an undisclosed ailment of his own.
While those injuries have been unfortunate, the coaching staff has been able to check out the team's depth group at cornerback.
Of those players, Josh Johnson has been one of the standouts.
Johnson was the backup nickel cornerback last season after playing two years in the Canadian Football League. Now in his second year with the Jaguars, Johnson has been getting more and more reps with the starting group due to the injuries at the position.
He has made the most of his opportunities.
"That’s one of the blessings that we had with the injuries and guys not participating, is we really get to evaluate those young guys," defensive coordinator Todd Wash said on Thursday. "Once again, once we get pads on, we’ll able to know what kind of depth we have. Playing in shorts seven-on-seven, we’ve created some depth in the pass game.”
Johnson played mostly on special teams last season. He was used on just 12 percent of the overall defensive snaps.
While his time on defense was scarce, he did make a huge play to help seal the Week 4 win over the Indianapolis Colts in London. He broke up a pass to tight end Dwayne Allen on fourth-and-1 with 1:42 left in the game.
It was Johnson's lone pass breakup of the season.
Like most tenured players, Johnson is looking to not only earn a job this summer but also gain more playing time. His new defensive backs coach, Perry Fewell, thinks he made some serious strides during the offseason program.
“I think he’s really improved as a backup nickel or really could challenge to play a bit of nickel for us,” Fewell said of Johnson. “So I’ve been pleased with his improvement. In the spring, I think there’s always room for improvement for him, especially at the line of scrimmage and press technique. Down the field and his coverage skills, we’ll continue to work on those things but I think he’s showed us that he can play in this league and we’ll see come the preseason also.”
If Ramsey and Colvin struggle to get on the field at the start of training camp, Johnson will receive even more playing time to show off his coverage skills.
Continuing his strong play will not only help Johnson get on the field more often, but also aid the Jaguars in their quest to build adequate depth behind their starters at cornerback.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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