Detroit Lions: Kerryon Johnson needs to prove himself this season

Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

The 2020 season will be an important year for Kerryon Johnson in Detroit

When the Detroit Lions selected running back Kerryon Johnson in the second round in the 2018 draft, they felt like they had their primary guy in the backfield set for the next few years. Lions fans got excited too as he was even drawing comparisons to New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell who was on the Pittsburgh Steelers at the time and was one of the best running backs in the league.

In his rookie season, Johnson got Lions fans excited by showing what he was able to do on the field. He rushed for 641 yards on 118 attempts (5.4 average yards per run) while getting to the endzone three times and only suffering from one fumble. He was also found in the endzone in the air once.

In Week 3, during his rookie season against the New England Patriots, Johnson rushed for 101 yards in which he became the first Lions running back since Reggie Bush in 2013 to run for 100+ yards. Four weeks later, he followed that up with a 158-yard showing.

While he put up good numbers, he had a bit of an issue staying on the field as he only appeared in 10 games missing weeks 12-15 due to a knee sprain he suffered in Week 11. After a solid rookie season in 2018 and coming into the 2019 season, expectations were big for Johnson to replicate and move forward with his success. His sophomore season was a big disappointment though.

He appeared in only half the teams’ games where he rushed for 403 yards on 113 attempts (3.6 average). For the other eight games that he missed, he was rehabbing his knee which required surgery.

With Johnson set to enter his third season in 2020, he has lots to prove. He needs to show the team that 2019 was just a down year and that he can go back to his 2018 form. He also needs to show that he can stay healthy, on the field and not paying him to be sitting out with injuries.

As insurance, the Lions selected running back D’Andre Swift in the second round in case Johnson were to go down with another injury and/or struggles again. This was a smart move as it puts pressure on Johnson to live up to the expectations he was given when he was selected in the second round. The selection of Swift should also motivate Johnson to thrust himself into the starting role and to create a healthy competition between the primary backfield duo.

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As the two young running backs are expected to share carries to at least start off the season, Johnson is the one that really needs to get himself into the starters role. If he excels, it only strengthens the Lions offense which makes everyone a winner but if he fails, he could possibly find himself off the team.

The 2020 season will show the front office, coaching staff and fans who the player Kerryon Johnson really is.