Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Allen Park — Kerryon Johnson doesn't have any grand illusions that the 2018 season is going to be a one-man show at the running back position the way it was for him last fall at Auburn.

He's completely fine with that.

Johnson is part of a running back room that features free-agent acquisition LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah. That's quite a crowd of guys who are going to want to get their hands on the ball. And Johnson, who carried the ball 28 or more times on five occasions last season in college, says he knows that kind of workload isn't what awaits him during his rookie season.

"It'll be different," he said. "Thirty carries a game isn't going to happen. It shouldn't happen in college, and it's definitely not going to happen in the NFL."

Johnson will have to continue to prove his value on the field as the team goes forward.

The rookie was seen playing special teams during Tuesday's minicamp, something he did his first two years at Auburn. It's clear that there's a totem pole at the running back position in early June, and it's one Johnson is going to have to work his way up.

"This is the National Football League," he said. "You're going to have to work your tail off. We've got a lot of good running backs in the room, and we're going to have to push each other for reps."

More: Lions taking it easy with Ziggy Ansah as contract deadline looms

The key for Johnson will be making the most of the touches he does get, saying he doesn't think running backs necessarily need a heavy workload to be successful.

"I think any running back just needs to get the ball," he said. "This game is unpredictable. You can break your first (run) for 60 (yards), you could have 30 carries and get 20 yards. These are great defenses. Any carry that you get could be the big one or the small one. You've just got to go out there, and when you get your chance, take advantage of it."

The lessened workload also could prove beneficial to Johnson's durability, as he routinely battled injuries during college, but still managed to gut out 37 games over three years.

Johnson said it took him almost a month to recover from the season and get back to full health.

"It was a long season, but I took care of my body," he said. "Football is football and it's going to beat you down, and as long as I take care of my body it's going to be fine."

There's little doubt the Lions drafted Johnson to eventually become "The Guy" in the backfield, as Ameer Abdullah failed to live up to expectations in 2017. While some might think Johnson's selection might cause a little friction between he and Abdullah, Johnson says the opposite is true.

"(He's) a cool dude," Johnson said. "He was the first guy I met when I got here. We've really been talking a lot in terms of playbook and how to do it. We're both rooting for each other. That's how the team is. If you've got turmoil between your position group, it spreads to the team and you don't win as many games. We both want each other to succeed, and we're both coming out here working."

Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.