Posted on Sat, Sep. 23, 2006
[size=13pt]Vikings like right tackle's potential[/size]
Johnson faces another tough matchup Sunday
BY SEAN JENSEN
Despite a rough outing against Carolina all-pro defensive end Julius Peppers, Vikings right tackle Marcus Johnson has regrouped for Sunday's showdown against Chicago's Adewale Ogunleye.
And veteran Artis Hicks is convinced Johnson has the potential to be a star.
"I think he can be a Pro Bowl player," said Hicks, who starts next to Johnson at right guard. "He's got the body, and he's got the athleticism. It's just a matter of getting that experience."
Johnson, who declines all interview requests, has plenty to learn from after Peppers tallied three sacks and four hurries Sunday, mostly against him.
During the game, which the Vikings ended up winning 16-13 in overtime, left tackle Bryant McKinnie encouraged Johnson not to get frustrated.
"If you make a mistake, don't let him get you out of your game," McKinnie told the second-year tackle. "Just play your game, and just use the technique you were taught."
After a lull in the third quarter, when he got "discouraged," Johnson rebounded in the fourth quarter and overtime, according to McKinnie.
"He said after the game that he didn't play well," McKinnie said. "But I was like, 'You just got to watch the film and learn from it. Those are some of the things you're going to have to go through. You can't just dominate everybody.' "
McKinnie should know. He said he struggled as a rookie, especially when he missed all of training camp. McKinnie especially remembers having a difficult time against Green Bay's Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.
"I didn't have any foundation, because I wasn't here," McKinnie said. "He was tough, and then I had to play him again."
But McKinnie said Johnson showed that he was a "fighter."
Now Johnson gets to face Ogunleye, who has 41.5 sacks since 2000.
"He's a hard-working guy," Hicks said of Johnson. "If you have a great game or a bad game, you have to have a short memory in this league."
: Hicks (shoulder) and receiver Troy Williamson (shoulder) were upgraded Friday from questionable to probable. Neither has missed a practice this week.
Receiver Marcus Robinson (hamstring) still is listed as questionable, but he appears on track to play Sunday against his former team. He also hasn't missed any practices this week.
: Backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger, acquired in a trade Aug. 31, is getting caught up. But he's not quite there, he said.
"It's a continual process, because they've been doing this since March," Bollinger said. "So am I at the level that Brad (Johnson) and these guys are at? No. But I'm to the point where I can step into the huddle, get a play called and execute."
Bollinger was pleased Childress thought enough of his progress to name him the backup last week against the Panthers.
: Rookie defensive end Jayme Mitchell could have chosen a number of teams after he went undrafted. But he chose the Vikings because of one person: defensive line coach Karl Dunbar.
Mitchell said players at Louisiana State raved about Dunbar's coaching ability. There were two key factors, though.
"He's a spiritual person, and the defense was one I was familiar with," Mitchell said.
Asked about the possibility of playing his first NFL game, he said: "I'm very excited. You dream about this as a kid."
Mitchell took the roster spot of Erasmus James, placed on injured reserve this week.
Briefly: First-round pick Chad Greenway said his knee is feeling "awesome."
"They're doing a great job here," he said of the medical staff.
Greenway is optimistic he will be ready for minicamp and training camp next year.
Sean Jensen can be reached at [email protected]