Vikings wide receiver Bisi Johnson joined the first episode of Vikings Vantage to explain what enabled his success as a rookie discuss his mindset heading into his second year in the NFL.
Vikings Vantage is co-hosted Gabe Henderson and Chris Corso and will air on KFAN 100.3-FM at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays this season. It also is available on all podcast platforms by subscribing to the Minnesota Vikings Podcast Network.
A seventh-round pick out of Colorado State in the 2019 NFL Draft, Johnson focused on making sure he did everything right off the field to make the 53-man roster.
A deep dive into the Vikings playbook was central to Johnson's strategy.
He said he spent two-to-three hours every night of last year's Verizon Vikings Training Camp studying study the playbook in his hotel room, memorizing each script.
"I mean I wanted to play in the NFL," Johnson said. "That's just the nature of it. You've got to grow up as a player. There's a huge difference, as far as the learning curve goes from college to the NFL. It's a lot bigger, it's a little more detailed, so that's really where it came from."
Those long nights in the playbook have turned to just 30-minute sessions as Johnson enters his second year in the NFL.
"The game has slowed down a whole bunch. Just understanding where I have to be on the field and when I have to be there," Johnson said. "It's crazy going from Year 1 to Year 2 and how much of a difference it makes."
Johnson impressed the Vikings coaching staff so much last year that he was able to sit out of the fourth preseason game, a decision that hinted that he made the team.
Johnson's efforts to learn multiple spots at receiver helped him record 31 catches for 294 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games. His role increased in Week 7 at Detroit after Adam Thielen left the Lions game with an injury. Johnson filled in with four receptions for 40 yards and his first career touchdown catch.
"It's truly an honor that people see my game and love it so much," Johnson said. "I credit it to just the hard work I put in. People talk about that they doubted me, and I have to prove them wrong, but it's really me trying to prove myself right that I can really do this, and I can play with anybody."
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak had done scouting work on Johnson when Kubiak was working with the Broncos personnel department credited Johnson's "football smarts" and said other coaches took notice once Johnson got to Minnesota.
"You start practicing and you go in a coaching meeting, and [Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf] says, 'Boy, this guy really knows what he's doing.' It just kept adding up."
Here are two other topics Johnson covered.
Young wide receivers room
Johnson, who is just 23, is already using his knowledge of the playbook to lead the rookie wide receivers in the first few weeks of training camp.
"Those guys look up to guys who understand the playbook," Johnson said. "You know they can ask you questions, so I have gotten a lot of questions from the younger guys like K.J. Osborn, Dan Chisena."
The Vikings have added many new faces to the position, including draft picks Justin Jefferson and Osborn, and free agent Tajaé Sharpe following the departure of Stefon Diggs.
So, what does Johnson believe is the major difference between last year's wide receivers room and this year's room?
"We're young, but the fact that we're young means there's a lot of unknown, and I think that's exciting for us because maybe people don't expect a lot [out] of us," Johnson said. "I think we're going to come out and we're going to show them because we've got a whole lot of talent."
Funniest player in 2020 training camp?
Johnson was asked to name the funniest player in the Vikings locker room so far to start the 2020 season and looked no further that the receivers room in naming Jefferson.
"I feel like I gotta give that to 'Jets,' " Johnson said. "Justin Jefferson came in and the dude has got swagger. He's a funny kid. He's goofy, young and I think all of the vets love his sense of humor."
Vikings Entertainment Network cameras recorded Jefferson teaching his veteran teammates his signature touchdown dance that he calls "The Griddy" this week.