S John Johnson (3.19.21)

 

On what gave him the feeling about Cleveland being his ideal destination:

“You just ask around. I know guys that were formerly here on the Browns. I have a roommate from college who is born and raised in Cleveland. He loves the city. He will choose this place over anywhere. He had nothing but great things to say. Honestly, I knew that the fans loved their team and supported the team, but when I got here yesterday, people started to notice me already so that just confirmed everything. I have just been hearing things. It is all coming into fruition, and I am just happy I made the right decision.”

 

On who was his college roommate:

“Kevin Kavalec. He went to St. Ignatius. He is a Cleveland guy. He loves it here. He still lives here. I linked up with him yesterday, and we had a blast. I am happy I am back with him. It will be fun being in the same city as him.”

 

On the Browns defense and secondary and how he can help the team on the field and as a leader in the locker room:

“It is a young, vibrant group, guys who can play, guys who can run, great athletes and versatile guys. You hear about (S) Grant Delpit and (S) Ronnie Harrison. We all are similar body types and similar skillsets. Just being out there together, hopefully, we can all be on the field at the same time giving quarterbacks headaches and just moving all around and just doing different things from a disguise standpoint. It is just something that I am looking forward to. Then you look at the corner position, (CB) Greedy Williams, hopefully, we can get him back ASAP. He is a great long guy who can run. (CB) Denzel (Ward), his work speaks for itself. You talk about coming from the No. 1 defense, you have (LA Rams DT) Aaron Donald and (LA Rams CB) Jalen Ramsey. I see Denzel Ward and (DE) Myles Garrett as the same thing. What I see right now is just a lot of guys who can play football, who love to football and who have played great football. I just want to come in and be a leader and just give them tips that I have learned over my career and things that I saw even last year that got us to such a great defense, a top-ranked defense. I just want to be a guy that people can just feel my vibe and it will rub off on people.”

 

On being the defensive signal caller for the LA Rams’ top-ranked defense and if he may have the same role in Cleveland:

“We have not talked about it just yet. If that is something that they want me to do, I will gladly do it. It is something that I got really comfortable at my last place. I was considered as a guy who was not going to leave the field regardless. I ended up playing 100 percent of the snaps. I just wanted to be the person who was out there. I see the most at safety. I am back there, and I can see everything. I can call out stuff that guys might miss. Just having the familiarity with the defense, being comfortable in the scheme and being the player version of the defensive coordinator on the field, that is something that I am more than capable of, and I enjoyed it. I feel like I was the glue to that defense. I feel like if I was not out there, things would have been a little different. I just feel like when guys turn around and they see No. 43 out there, they are comfortable and they know that they can rely on me. Having a green dot is just something that came second nature.”

 

On what defensive coordinator Joe Woods has shared about he may be used in the defense with Delpit and Harrison:

“Like I said, we all have versatility. We all can be moving around in different spots. When you think about a three safety contour, usually it is going to be like a dime linebacker or a slot corner like one of us playing a nickel type of position, and all three of us are more than capable of doing that. That is just what he had talked about, not really too much of scheme but just body types and being able to play different spots.”

 

On if there is a spot on defense that he likes best or if he prefers the ability to be versatile:

“I feel like different situations and depending on who we are playing that week call for a different guy playing a different spot. All three of us being capable and being ready to do that, I feel like no matter who we are playing that week, we can all just easily move and fit into a different spot depending on who we are playing.”

 

On reports that former LA Rams teammate and free agent CB Troy Hill will be joining him in Cleveland and what made the 2020 LA Rams secondary so good:

“When Troy texted me and said, ‘Look, I am about to end up in Cleveland with you,’ I thought he was just playing around and then the news broke. I was like, ‘Woah.’ That will be fun, a guy who you are familiar with. I know it is still football at the end of the day, but it is kind of like a new journey, and it is kind of good to have somebody who you are comfortable with here. We can meet everyone together. I know how he plays, and he knows how I play. It will be fun. I think what made us so good is that we did the little things right and with discipline. I was talking to Coach Joe Woods and (defensive backs coach) Jeff (Howard), and we were talking about tackling and killing blocks. Those are small things that go unnoticed, but we did them really, really well and with really, really great discipline. We really honed in on those small things all of the time. We did not really have too many times where guys would bust a coverage, were not running to the ball or were not giving an effort. The small things ended up being huge things in the end.”

 

On how nerve-wracking is free agency:

“Luckily for me, I put myself in the position where I knew that I was going to land on my feet. I knew I was going to be able to make a decision and kind of have control of my destiny, but it is nerve-wracking. You are just living in limbo for a month and a half, two months not knowing anything. I did not even know if the Rams were even talking about bringing me back. It is just a weird time not knowing what your future holds for you. Like I said, luckily for me, I was blessed enough to know I was going to land on my feet and be in a good situation. It is pretty nerve-wracking, and I am glad that it is over with.”

 

On if any of his Browns teammates connected with him outside of on social media:

“(LB) Mack Wilson, he is training in LA right now so I am definitely going to link up with him when I get back. I have reached out to (QB) Baker (Mayfield). We have a mutual friend in LA that we connected with. Obviously, Troy, but I am going to get on to the other guys, too. I just had to come here and make sure everything was real first (laughter). I had to get settled in, but I will definitely reach out, especially Delpit and Ronnie, just to get acquainted and get ready to get to work.”

 

On if he knew he would not be back with the LA Rams after last season ended:

“That is a great question. At that Packers playoff game, I kind of had a moment of they were up and they were taking knees. I kind of felt like this might be the last time that I suited up as a Ram, just the way things were going. Guys had gotten extensions early in the year, and I was kind of the one who got left out so I just kind of felt like it might be the last time. I did have a little hope that something would happen and I would end up staying there, but I was ready for it. Free agency is a big step, and I was ready for it.”

 

On confirming that he did not recruit Hill to the Browns after he signed:

“I had talked to him. I would not say I recruited, but I had said like, ‘Hey man, if things are not adding up – you know how I am – you can get right here with me.’ Like I said, when he texted me saying he was coming here, I did not believe him. I thought he was just talking, and then I saw the news break and I was just like, ‘OK, it is business now.’ I am glad we have him here. I know you all will love him here. It is going to be fun.”

 

On reports that he turned down more money from another team because he really wanted to join the Browns:

“I know I mentioned it earlier in the interview, I felt like it was an opportunity of a lifetime, coming to a situation that things are moving in the right direction. That is rare in this business. It is really a business that it is rare that people care about you, people actually appreciate you and people want to do things the right way. This city as a whole, let alone the organization, it drips that [it cares, people appreciate you and it does things the right way]. It drips that. I just felt it had a young group, a young secondary, a great defense. We can get a rush on the quarterback. I am like, ‘It will be a perfect fit to get out here to Cleveland.’ It was a no-brainer.”

 

On being a former third-round pick and now receiving a significant contract in free agency:

“I was not highly recruited out of high school. Boston College was my biggest offer. I committed right on the spot. Like you said, I went in the third round. I have always felt like I was a great football player, but sometimes the situations you are in, you kind of get overlooked. Just taking everything one step at a time and one day at a time, it just ended up paying off. I just looked at it as win wherever your feet are and you can live with the results. To get to this point, I am extremely blessed, and I am extremely grateful. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I understand that and I won’t let that go to waste or soil that opportunity. It is a blessing. It is just a true testament to all of the hard work that people don’t see. They see, ‘Oh, you came from Boston College and he did XYZ,’ but all of the days that people did not see, it is a testament to that. I am just extremely blessed and happy.”

 

On if it has hit him yet that he earned a significant contract in free agency or if it has been too much of a whirlwind to this point:

“I think today when I signed [it hit me]. On Monday, you agree, but it is kind of like anything could happen. I could have busted a physical – I don’t know. Anything could happen. Today when I put that ink to the paper, it was like, ‘OK, I am in the building. I am talking ball with the coaches. I am talking where they see me fitting’ and stuff like that so it is all hitting me.”

 

On confirming he passed his physical:

“Correct.”

 

On his reaction to being a team’s top target in free agency and being viewed as a player who can help elevate the defense:

“I automatically think of with great power comes great responsibility. I see it as I have to come right in and get to work. Things that I was doing at the Rams, I can’t do that here. I have to be an even truer professional. People speak that I am a true professional, but I have to ramp things up a little bit. They invested in me so I have to give them back what they invested in me. I am just looking forward to it. I am looking forward to being the same person every day, I am looking forward to coming to work with a positive attitude rubbing off on people and most importantly, winning. That is the goal. That is why they brought me in – to establish a great defense, which we have the foundation to do it, but a guy like me, I feel wholeheartedly that we can take the next step.”

 

On if he has met DE Takk McKinley and if he had an existing relationship with McKinley:

“I just bumped into him today, but I had not known him before this.”

 

On leaving a team with a player of Donald’s caliber and joining a team with Garrett, who he said is in that same category of player:

“It is funny because we all marvel at the work that they do on the field on Sundays on gameday, but Aaron Donald is probably the hardest working person I have seen in my life. It is tireless. Sometimes it is like, ‘Aaron, do you have a chill button? Can you stop?’ He is the hardest working guy I have ever seen – hands down – and it shows. I am just looking forward to getting in here with Myles. I have heard great things about him, as well, and that he is pretty similar so it is going to translate to Sundays. When you have guy like that who you know is going to get to the quarterback and you know is going to rush hard every single down, it makes your job as a DB a whole lot easier. I just want to hold him down because I know he is going to rush his tail off so I am going to cover my tail off and tackle my tail off for him and be a great teammate. I am really looking forward to it.”

 

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