Johnson and Owens recently worked out at Santa Monica City College.
Johnson seemed right at home at Santa Monica City College, where his college football career started. He still has his speed, quickness, and the solid technique that made him a Pro Bowl receiver. Photo by Jason Lewis
Like Johnson, Owens has been training daily to prepare himself for the up and coming NFL season, with the hopes that he will be signed. He has shown the ability to still get to nearly any ball. Photo by Jason Lewis
One thing Johnson still does is talk a lot of trash. He let Jermaine Kelly (Salesian High School) know that he was about to impose his will on the young cornerback, who is on his way to the University of Washington on a football scholarship in the fall. Photo by Jason Lewis
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
Chad Johnson has been putting in work to make it back to the NFL. A week ago he returned to the field where his college football career started, and he brought with him another high profile wide receiver that has been trying to make it back the NFL.
Johnson, along with Terrell Owens, worked out at Santa Monica City College, with trainers Jeff Johnson and JaRon Tatum of Elite Athletes. The two wide receivers spent a portion of the two hour workout talking trash to each other about how great their skills still are, and the other part of the workout was proving it against cornerbacks that did not stand too much of a chance to guard the multi Pro Bowl receivers.
“Chad and T.O. can play in the NFL, right now, on any team,” Johnson said. “It’s politics. Those guys can run, they can catch, they still talk some mess, but they can back it up. It’s 90 percent mental, and they’re vets. Their bodies are still functioning correctly, and everything up here (mind) is still working. They just need the chance.”
At Elite Athletes, Johnson and Tatum work with a number of NFL receivers and defensive backs, as well as college, high school, and youth athletes, and they both felt that Johnson and Owens still are as athletic as their other NFL clients.
“I think they looked good,” Tatum said. “It’s going to be really good for them to get another shot. A team can pull them in right now and they can play. The skill and the mindset of the game, and the technique, they still have it. We were watching them run, and they still have it, so hopefully they get another shot.”
Both surely still have the speed, as they were running right by the cornerbacks at the workout. They were not playing against NFL caliber cornerbacks, but according to Johnson and Tatum’s evaluation, they would have caught passes on pro cornerbacks too.
Also on hand was Salesian High School cornerback Jermaine Kelly, who will be heading to the University of Washington in the fall on a football scholarship. Kelly is used to covering high school receivers, so this training session was a major step up for him.
“It’s a great experience, and it’s just getting in work,” Kelly said. “Nobody in the PAC-12 is better than these guys, so if I’m putting my all in with these guys, I’m going to be up for the Heisman at Washington.”
Kelly did notice a major difference in competition level, as he won some battles, and lost some.
“The speed changed a lot, and the route running is more crisp. You really have to be out of your breaks faster or you’ll get beat. You have to work at your craft, because technique is everything at the next level.”
Johnson, as well as Owens, has been looking for a fresh start since being out of football last year. He has not accomplished much on the football field since the 2010 season, as the Patriots did not use him much during the 2011 season, and the Dolphins released him during training camp as he had legal problems. He felt that going back to Santa Monica would be a good setting for him.
“It’s good to be back where it all started,” Johnson said. “I think I needed to ground myself. Remember where it all started. What it felt like to have nothing. I think I lost focus at some point, so it’s good to come back here and humble myself. “
Johnson said that his training regimen has been what it has always been, intense and nearly every day. The same can be said for Owens, who has had a number of training sessions with Elite Athletes. As much trash talking as Johnson was doing, and a lot of it was aimed at his long time friend Owens, he appreciated having another athlete of his caliber to workout with.
“It’s a joy to be around somebody that can move like that, that can still play,” Johnson said. “Given the opportunity, if it’s either me or him, we can still play the game of football, period.”
Johnson’s outlook on life right now is pretty simple, as he seemed very calm and at peace after the workout.
“Live life. Live life. That’s it,” Johnson said.
Johnson is getting his life together, but with the steps that he is taking forward, he still took a step backwards. Earlier this week a warrant for his arrest was issued in Broward County, Florida, where he pleaded no contest to domestic battery after an incident with his then wife. He was placed on probation, but he missed two probation meetings. He flew back to Florida to turn himself in, and he was placed under arrest.
Skills and athletic abilities are not Johnson’s problem, or Owens’ for that matter. It is the off the field issues that have side lined both of them.