Sunday, April 25, 2004

Johnson fits team's new mold of linebacker

LB Landon Johnson

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Landon Johnson watched the draft all day Saturday on television at home in Lubbock, Texas.

R1: RB Chris Perry
R2: CB Keiwan Ratliff
R2: FS Madieu Williams
R3: LB Caleb Miller
R3: LB Landon Johnson

The Purdue linebacker resigned himself - actually he was looking forward to it - to watching the draft again today to see where he would play.

Then the Bengals called his name with the last pick of the first day, the 96th overall.

"It's a relief to be selected on the first day," he said.

Johnson was a four-year starter at Purdue, earning both All-Big Ten playing and academic honors during his career.

He started 45 of 47 games for the Boilermakers and recorded 345 tackles, 8.5 sacks and four interceptions. He also played on the punt team as a senior and said that he anticipates doing much of the same with the Bengals.

Johnson is a 227-pound linebacker, and teaming with fellow third-round linebacker Caleb Miller of Arkansas, they are the new style Bengals linebacker.

They are fast and smaller, similar to the fifth-round pick in 2003, Khalid Abdullah.

Abdullah, Miller and Johnson could easily be the second set of linebackers in 2004 behind starters Kevin Hardy, Brian Simmons and Nate Webster. Frank Chamberlin also is on the roster.

"I think picking both guys is what we needed to do, and it gets our evolution of players," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

There was talk of Johnson moving to safety, but Lewis said he would remain at linebacker.

Johnson seemed ready to play late Saturday.

"I'm going to play as hard as I can as quick as I can," he said.

Johnson, besides having the speed Lewis likes, also has the smarts Lewis looks for.

On attending Purdue as a Texas resident, Johnson said, "It was my best opportunity. I had a chance to come in and play early, while getting an education from Purdue. I wanted to prepare for a job just in case I wasn't able to make it in the NFL. It's paid off, and I'm happy."

Landon Johnson, LB, Purdue

Height, weight: 6-1, 227

DOB: 3/13/81

2003 stats: 102 tackles, two interceptions, 5.5 tackles for loss.

2004 projection: Will provide depth at linebacker and should be a staple on special teams.

Personal: Resides in Lubbock, Texas; has degree in general health science from Purdue; had 4.0 GPA at Coronado High School in Lubbock.



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