Thoughts after Day 1 of Detroit Lions padded practice at training camp in Allen Park, Aug. 17, 2020.
Detroit Free Press
Every couple months they come out of the woodwork, trolls who want to hassle Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson about his workout routine. Or lack of one, at least that they see.
Johnson, unlike so many modern athletes, does not post rise-and-grind pictures on social media, choosing instead to work out in the privacy of his gym.
When the topic came up in an ask-me-anything Instagram story in July, Johnson had the perfect response.
Q. How come you never post training or workout videos?
A. Cause i be working out???
Screengrab from Kerryon Johnson’s Instagram story in July, 2020. (Photo: Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press)
“I mean, look, playing football’s my job,” Johnson said Saturday. “What goes in my job is working out. I like my job. I’d like to keep my job. I’m going to work out. It is what it is.”
Johnson said he doesn’t mind when athletes post workout pictures or videos online, but he has a compelling reason not to.
“I don’t have a guy that I know that just comes to the gym with me and films what I’m doing,” he said. “Like, I’m not going to pay anybody to do that cause I like my money too much. Second of all, I don’t know anybody that wants to do that for me. So it’s just, it’s never dawned on me like, ‘Oh, I need somebody to record this.’ Like, if you want that to happen, you make that happen, cool for you.”
Lately, Johnson has making a lot happen on the football field.
The Lions leading rusher each of the last two years, Johnson appears close to solidifying his place atop the depth chart at running back three weeks out from the season opener against the Chicago Bears.
Rookie D’Andre Swift, who’s expected to split time in the backfield, has missed two straight practices with a leg injury, and backup Bo Scarbrough has been limited since the start of camp.
[ D’Andre Swift could bring some Alvin Kamara to Lions offense ]
Running backs Kerryon Johnson (33) and D’Andre Swift (6) talk with linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin during Detroit Lions training camp Thursday, August 20, 2020 in Allen Park. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)
Johnson, who missed 14 games the past two seasons with two different knee injuries — he sprained his left knee in 2018 and tore the meniscus in his right knee in 2019 — said he’s healthy and feeling good despite the bulky brace he wears on his right knee.
“Me and the knee brace are one,” Johnson said. “Like, we’re one person. Like, I work with it, it works with me. I’ve used it all offseason, used it all when I was coming back last season, so that’s just the new me. I’m the knee brace guy everybody jokes about. But it feels great. I like having a knee brace on. It helps me out a lot, gives me a little peace of mind as well.”
The Lions took Swift in the second round of April’s draft, 35th overall, for their own peace of mind given Johnson’s durability issues.
Detroit Lions’ Kerryon Johnson takes the handoff from Matthew Stafford during NFL football training camp practice in Allen Park, Mich., Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. (Photo: Daniel Mears, AP)
“I can’t learn anything from Swift because the way Swift’s knees bend and hips work, I can’t do any of that,” Johnson said. “So when he comes up and does his little shaky-dake whatever thing, I can’t do that, so I just say, ‘Good job.’ “
Eventually, Johnson and Swift should give the Lions a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield.
Until then, the forgotten man on the Lions’ potent offense will continue quietly going about his way.
“We can go back to high school and talk about (me being) slept on,” Johnson said. “I mean, when I was coming through in high school, I was too small to be a running back, everybody wants me to play (defensive back). Nobody thinks I can make it at the next level. Went to college, same thing happened. … So it’s really nothing new for me. I honestly don’t care. I know how good I am, I know what I can do. I know when those lights come on, I know what type of player I can be and I go out there, I play 100 percent, I let the rest take care of itself.”
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.