Charles Johnson: Practice squad to surgery


Wide receiver

Charles Johnson

was snatched off the Packers practice squad before the Browns knew he needed surgery. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

It is a little-known fact that a practice squad player, such as former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Charles Johnson, can be lured away and signed at any time, by any team. In short, players on practice squads around the league, belong to no one.

I think that is why fans of the Green Bay Packers were so surprised to see seventh-round pick Charles Johnson head to the practice squad when roster cuts were made.

All the talk coming out of college, the combine, the draft – this kid has athletic ability. He’s a big target, at 6’2 and 215-pounds. He’s fast … like, really fast. I believe that Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers saw some Donald Driver potential in this kid. He was definitely raw and needed to be formed into a weapon, but that is exactly what the Green Bay Packers do. Donald Driver was a forgotten seventh-rounder, too. Remember?

Fans called for Charles Johnson during the offseason. They wanted to see what this kid could give us. But, like all good Packers seem to be these days, he was nursing a hamstring injury all through OTAs, all through training camp and all through the pre-season. We didn’t get to see the explosion of talent we were all anticipating.

Roster cuts came around and Johnson headed off to the practice squad, along with another promising receiver, Myles White. It seemed that McCarthy and Thompson were ‘all set’ with the Big Three, Jeremy Ross and Jarrett Boykin; a championship-caliber receiving corps for championship dreams.

Those dreams were dashed in the span of the first half of a football game.

It was quite a surprise when the Cleveland Browns nabbed future playmaker Charles Johnson off of the Packers’ practice squad and signed him to their 53-man roster. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time. He was sure to get a promotion to Aaron Rodgers‘ arsenal this Sunday.

The Browns placed QB Brian Hoyer on injured reserve and Johnson took his spot on the active roster, where he must stay for at least three weeks, per NFL rules. Another little known NFL rule: When signing a practice squad player to the active roster, you do not have the luxury of a physical first.


The ink had barely had time to dry on that contract before the Browns officially announced that, upon further inspection, Johnson was not the model they were originally hoping for. Well, he might be with a little tuning up. He was found to have a torn ACL and is out for surgery and the season before even stepping onto the practice field.

Say what you want about Ted Thompson, but … he knows a thing or two. Instead of calling for his resignation every time he makes a decision, remember: “In Ted We Trust.”

How could he part ways with Nick Collins, how could he let Desmond Bishop go? How could he not have promoted Johnson after Ross was released? I’m not saying that the guy can see the future, but Collins’ career is over, Bishop was recently put on injured reserve (again) and Johnson will sit on a Browns’ roster spot for three weeks before ending his season on the couch. Fans always think they know what is best but let’s face it …

Sometimes a subtraction makes room for a better addition.