I just so happened to have referenced Fred Johnson earlier today in my daily question post. It’s time to remind you now that the 2019 priority undrafted free agent, who spent most of the season on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53-man roster before being waived to make an injury-induced roster move, has since then been a member of the Cincinnati Bengals after they claimed him off waivers.
And in contrast to many such players who get claimed off of waivers, it doesn’t appear as though he is likely to circle back in a hurry, the way that Tuzar Skipper did after spending a chunk of the season with the New York Giants, and even recording a sack in the process.
Johnson ultimately was active for six games for the Bengals. He barely played early on, but played in the majority of the final two games, which included seeing him start at left tackle in the season finale in place of the injured Cordy Glenn. Johnson had been a guard for the Steelers.
“I’ve worked my butt off”, the rookie told the Bengals’ website during the final week of practice heading into Cincinnati’s final game of the season, during which he played almost every snap. “I like playing tackle. Right or left. I like playing guard. I like playing”.
“I like playing”.
He was a weekly inactive while on the Steelers. But you could hardly blame them. Pittsburgh had a far better offensive line situation than did Cincinnati, both in terms of quality and health. And depth, obviously, considering they were able to part with Johnson, and the Bengals felt the need to acquire him.
“Traits, he’s got them”, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said of Johnson, before making reference to the team’s willingness to utilize him in the tackle-eligible role that Zach Banner had come to be synonymous with. “Let’s put it this way, he’s the only left tackle we’ve got we sent out on a route. He’s got good hands”.
Taylor praised Johnson’s range of motion when discussing the team’s decision to move him to tackle when they acquired him off waivers, saying that from an athletic perspective, he is “adequate enough”.
From the sounds of it, they are hoping to develop him into a four-tool lineman, at least, and it’s possible he may even end up starting at right tackle at some point in the relatively near future if he shows up well in the offseason.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati should have its 2019 first-round pick, Jonah Williams, back from injury to start at left tackle after missing all of his rookie season. Glenn had previously been penciled in to kick inside to guard prior to Williams being injured in the offseason.