Chargers trade for defensive end Johnson
Sometimes a change of scenery can bring out the best in an athlete. Travis Johnson and the Chargers are hoping that’s the case.
On Monday, the Chargers traded a conditional draft pick to the Houston Texans to acquire Johnson, a defensive end who is a former first-round pick. Likely to play end in the Chargers 3-4 defense, Johnson could take a few weeks to get up to speed. According to head coach Norv Turner, Johnson will not play in the final preseason game Friday against the 49ers, but is expected to play quite a bit once the regular season starts.
The Chargers have been hit hard by injuries at the defensive end position as starter Jacques Cesaire has sat out the last three weeks of practice with a calf injury and has not played in any preseason games. Also, Ryon Bingham, who has played quite a bit for the Chargers in recent seasons, has not been able to play or practice for close to a month with a torn triceps. The Chargers have said he’ll miss at least the first six weeks of the season, which is an optimistic estimate. Johnson will probably play in a rotation with rookie Vaughn Martin and Bingham, if he returns, to give starters Cesaire and Luis Castillo breathers during games. “He’s a good football player who gives us more experience,” Turner said.
Johnson’s career has been considered a disappointment so far but part of that can be attributed the Texans changing coaching staff and defensive schemes. He was drafted to play end in a 3-4 scheme, but the Texans switched to a 4-3 defense following Johnson’s rookie season. Drafted in 2005 out of Florida State, Johnson was the 16th overall pick, picked four spots after the Chargers took Shawne Merriman. Interestingly, with their second first round pick that year the Chargers selected Castillo so it is likely that Johnson was a target of the Chargers that year as a defensive end.
Entertainer sources have indicated that the conditional draft pick the Chargers gave up will be either a fifth or sixth round pick in the 2010 draft, depending on Johnson’s playing time and performance.
Johnson is a Southern California native who was a highly decorated player at Notre Dame High School in the Los Angeles area of Sherman Oaks.