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Raiders preseason: Tyron Johnson's improvement gives offense missing deep threat

Speedster looking to become complete receiver

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tyron Johnson has come a long way during his first three seasons in the NFL. After stints with six other NFL teams, He is looking for a chance for playing time with a consistent home.

The former undrafted free agent flashed as a deep threat in 2020, suiting up for the Los Angeles Chargers. He built a connection with Justin Herbert during his rookie campaign displaying highlight moments with Johnson beating defenses over the top.

After a shocking release by the Chargers after the 2021 training camp, Johnson found a home with the Las Vegas Raiders. While he didn’t have any targets last season, Johnson helped with field position by returning kickoffs to create an impact. The work on special teams let him hang around the roster.

“When you’re not that one, two or three guy, you have to play special teams. It’s mandatory to make the team. So just as focused as I am on the offense, I am that dialed in on special teams because that may be my route to the team.”

Flash forward to training camp, and Johnson is fighting for a roster spot in a talented wide receiver room. He is creating a consistent buzz with media and fans, even landing the nickname “T-Billy.” The former Charger has caught the eye of Josh Mcdaniels and wants to continue to improve as an overall receiver.

“Being a fast guy, that’s all people talking about, ‘He’s fast, he’s fast.’ At the end of the day, I just want to have the overall game as far as route running, route depth, blocking. I want to showcase that I could do a lot more things than just speed.”

Johnson’s improvement as a route runner is evident in the game film. His release vs. press aided him in winning against man coverage vs. Jacksonville. He just had trouble finishing, but the explosiveness was eye-catching, exhibiting the potential of the fourth-year receiver.

Route nuance continued into the second matchup vs. the Minnesota Vikings. Johnson didn’t get a target on this, but he sells the go and forces the corner into a half-turn. Without losing speed, he can cut inside, creating separation, but the target goes to Mack Hollins.

The influence of Davante Adams is having an impact on the young receiver. His dynamic route running is rubbing off on Johnson, and he is soaking up all the information.

“Just route-savvy, the way he gets open, Johnson said about Adams. He doesn’t use speed at all, he uses deception, head faking, and more hip movement. Stuff that a few people could do after him.”

Johnson is a player that could be a steal if he reaches his potential. His speed and improved route running could create explosive plays for an offense missing a genuine deep threat. He can open up a passing game ready to deploy three dominant players at their position. Johnson can join that group if he continues his ascent up the depth chart.