Johnson's Role Increases As Super Bowl Nears

Fullback Quinn Johnson has seen his playing time increase this season, which has dovetailed nicely with the Packers' recent string of success.

DALLAS – Since his rookie season in 2009, Quinn Johnson has gone from irrelevant to potential Super Bowl starter.

In his first season with Green Bay, the fullback from LSU was only active for nine regular season games and didn't start any of them. He didn't even get the opportunity to play in the Packers' wild card playoff game at Arizona.

Since that time, Johnson has seen his playing time increase in 2010 by being active for 11 games and starting four of them during the regular season. Tack on two postseason starts, and Johnson is getting valuable playing time he didn't get a season ago.

Starts can be a deceiving stat. All it means is that a player was on the field for the first play of the ball game. With the Packers using so many varied formations, there are several times there is no fullback on the field to start the game.

Perhaps better way to quantify Johnson's impact is to look at it is the increased number of plays Johnson has been playing as of late.

Johnson doesn't want to examine the factors that have led to his increased playing time. He's just glad to be contributing and playing a part.

"It could be due to a bunch of different things," said Johnson. "I really don't try to pinpoint it to one thing, I just try to roll with the punches."

To understand why Johnson is getting more reps on gameday, running backs coach Edgar Bennett said it's about the fullback's practice habits.

"It comes down to improving the overall fundamentals, getting better day in and day out," said Bennett. "I think that certainly helped him staying on after practice, getting extra time as far as working on his fundamentals from his footwork to his hand placements.

"And basically what it comes down to is finishing after that. So the kid's getting better and better, and he just has to continue to work in that area."

Sometimes Johnson blocks for John Kuhn at tailback. Other times they're playing fullback side-by-side in the inverted wishbone formation. But no matter how they're utilized, Kuhn knows Johnson's game has been elevated compared to last season.

"I think Quinn has really evolved a lot from last year to this year," said Kuhn. "Last year he was really learning a lot throughout the course of the season and just getting his feet wet.

"This year he was able to take things to the next level and really work on his technique in the game and not just knowing the plays, but actually knowing how to do them better than he did last year and trying to learn from film and trying to learn from other fullbacks and grow at the position."

A window of opportunity may have opened for Johnson while fellow fullback Korey Hall struggled through injuries this season. Johnson was inactive for five out of the first eight games of 2010 but has been active for every game from Week 9 onward.

To Johnson's credit, he's taken advantage of the situation and hasn't seen his playing time decrease even when Hall has been active.

"I would like to say I've improved in every part of my game," said Johnson. "Of course, there's still room for improvement."

Johnson doesn't touch the ball very often. With only three receptions during the regular season and one more in the playoffs, it's a rare occurrence.

Even the possibility that he could turn one of those rare catches into a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend  hardly interests him.

"All that would be great," said Johnson, "but for the most part, I just want to get in there an do my job. And play my role for the most part, that's it."

As long as that role leads to a Super Bowl victory, the Packers probably won't mind.

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Comments (12)

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awesomeandy's picture

February 03, 2011 at 04:30 pm

I love showing all my friends the "Quinn Johnson Unleashed" video from the preseason. His face at the end always cracks me up.

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Milwaukee Mike's picture

February 03, 2011 at 04:38 pm

1996: Second-year FB coming into his own? Check
2010: Second-year FB coming into his own? Check

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mel's picture

February 03, 2011 at 04:39 pm

I love Johnson!!! He is the Sledge Hammer!!!! Guess that would make Bj a recking ball!!!! lol This kid blows up linebackers!!! Love him!!!

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Nerdmann's picture

February 03, 2011 at 04:57 pm

He's always been a battering ram. But now he's learned to catch the ball too. He had 3 recorded receptions this season, but there were a few more that were called back on penalties or didn't count for whatever reason. To be a FB in this system you have to have that element in your game.

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MLecl0001's picture

February 03, 2011 at 05:53 pm

Actually Brian being starter doesnt mean you play the first snap. I have seen that floating around a few times. Being a starter is a ceremonial, and status thing. Being a starter is just something that is penciled in.

If you watch previous games offensive starters include 5 OL, 1 QB, 1 FB, 1 RB, 2 WR, and 1 TE or something like that. However I have seen first plays run not in that formation, for example starting with 4 wide, or starting in the bone formation.

Same with defense, defensive starters are almost always base defense. However the first defensive snap has been at times nickel defense.

So technically being a starter has nothing to do with playing any snaps, its just something that is penciled in for prestige reason.

Edit - not trying to be nitpicky just stating something I noticed. Love your articles and appreciate the work you put in.

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Brian Carriveau's picture

February 03, 2011 at 06:00 pm

According to the stats the Packers keep, it means playing the first snap. Look it up.

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MLecl0001's picture

February 03, 2011 at 06:25 pm

Ah I see, my bad, didnt realise the packers were keeping their own. Or if they are nfl ones, I was tracking from seomthing else.

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BigbyATTACK's picture

February 03, 2011 at 07:15 pm

Quinn Johnson is my favorite Packer these days, since his rookie season. Got to watch him play, and just loved how he looked for contact. If he comes in, I say ooohhh, someone's getting hit, follow Quinn! I'm really happy he's developing more and more.

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BLACK HAWK's picture

February 03, 2011 at 09:46 pm

Korey Hall may be out of a job next year.

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foundinidaho's picture

February 04, 2011 at 02:48 pm

Boo, hiss.

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bill from jersey`'s picture

February 04, 2011 at 10:19 am

When johnson was younger,use to miss assignments and blocks alot,boy has he improved ten fold.I,for one ,would not want to run into him going full speed....snap,crackle,pop

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jeremy's picture

February 04, 2011 at 11:10 am

Quinn Johnson is the type of player who could just physically overwhelm defenders at the collegiate level. Now that he is a pro that's not just going to happen just by stepping out there. I'm glad to hear he is honing his craft, he has a very high ceiling.

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