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Indianapolis Colts

Marcus Johnson Hoping For Quick Transition Into Colts' Offense

Acquired via trade on Saturday, wide receiver Marcus Johnson is very familiar with Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich’s offensive approach. Could that pay dividends sooner rather than later for the team and Johnson?


INDIANAPOLIS — Marcus Johnson says "perspective is everything" when looking back at the fact he has been traded twice in about a five-month span.

On March 14, Johnson — who originally signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent in May 2016 — was sent to the Seattle Seahawks, along with a future fifth-round draft pick, in exchange for defensive end Michael Bennett and a future seventh-round pick.

Then, on Saturday, Johnson was acquired by the Indianapolis Colts; in exchange, second-year tight end Darrell Daniels was sent to Seattle.

At surface level, some will see that the Colts acquired a player in Johnson who fits in well at a perceived position of need. At 6-foot-1, 204 pounds, Johnson brings plenty of size, but mixed with his speed — he ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at his pro day at Texas in 2016 — he has everything you could want at the receiver position.

But digging deeper, the familiarity between Johnson and Colts head coach Frank Reich — his former offensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles — seems to be the primary reason the team not only felt compelled to make a move to get Johnson, but reason enough to believe that he could quickly make an impact on the Indy offense.

"He saw me for two years, up close and personal — a lot of things a lot of people didn't see," Johnson said of Reich. "And he knows my game well, so what he's seen me succeed in and be consistent at is something that we can build on, and then from there you just keep building on top of that."

Johnson was building some steam as an undrafted rookie with the Eagles when he suffered an injury early in training camp that sidelined him for the next few weeks. Waived during the cutdown to the 53-man roster, Johnson was then signed to the Eagles' practice squad for a good chunk of his rookie season.

He made the Eagles' 53-man roster last season, and, playing behind the team's top wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery, Johnson's opportunities would be few and far between; he appeared in 10 games total and caught five passes for 45 yards.

But all the while, Reich remained impressed with what Johnson brought to the table in practices, and wondered what he could do in a situation with more chances to get the ball in his hands.

After making a move to acquire Johnson, it appears Reich will get an opportunity to see just what that looks like.

"Marcus has really good traits. He's got good vertical speed, he's got good feet, he's got good size. I mean, really in a lot of ways Marcus is a prototypical receiver in the NFL," Reich said. "I like everything about Marcus, I just don't think Marcus has had the right opportunity and I think he has a chance of getting that here and we'll see what he does."

Because Johnson is familiar with Reich's offensive approaches, there's a chance he could already have a role in Sunday's season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. The challenging aspect, he said, will be catching up with the new terminology being used, but Johnson was planning to set aside plenty of time this week to commit that all to memory.

"We'll see how everything (goes)," Johnson said on Monday. "Worst-case scenario, (I could play) special teams and then (Reich) can put me in spots throughout the game on offense with whatever he feels best. We have an off day tomorrow; I have a lot of time to really go over everything. I'm going to sit down with the receiver coach today and we'll just move, and then whatever they feel as we approach Sunday, that'll be the move for us."

Ultimately, Johnson isn't sure what his primary role will be within the Colts' offense — he's been utilized more as an outside receiver the last couple seasons, but says he's getting more comfortable in the slot — but everybody involved is hoping his connection with Reich will pay off sooner rather than later.

"Just being around now having that feel, I think that's the biggest thing: once you understand playbooks and you understand what the coach wants, you can play free. And that's when guys thrive and they flourish," Johnson said. "So that's why I say it's perspective and a blessing to be here because now I can kind of get that feel back of what Frank wants and what we did in Philly.

"It's always on me to earn everything," Johnson continued. "So respect, playing time, whatever it may be, it has to be earned, and that's what this process is going to be."

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