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Bisi Johnson Stayed Prepared, Seized Opportunity Against Panthers

EAGAN, Minn. – Bisi Johnson doesn't take a single snap for granted.

When the Vikings receiver had the opportunity to step in for Adam Thielen Sunday against the Panthers, he stepped up. Johnson played a bigger role in Minnesota's offense in the absence of Thielen, and he caught all seven passes thrown his way for a career-high 74 yards in a 28-27 Vikings win.

Johnson recorded two catches of 17 yards, including one on third-and-10 that kept the Vikings alive on a fourth-quarter drive capped by Justin Jefferson's second touchdown of the day. Following the score, he nabbed the 2-point conversion pass to make it a 24-21 game.

According to Johnson, the Vikings had done a walk-through of that play last month before the Monday Night Football game at Chicago.

"At that time, I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing on the play, so ever since then I've memorized that play really well, and I knew there was going to be an opportunity for it to come up in this game," Johnson said. "We had to go for a 2-point conversion, and before the snap even came, I knew the ball was coming to me. I just got my depth, and I wasn't positive if I was across the line or not, so that's why I kind of stuck one hand out just to make sure."

The play helped put Minnesota in position for its comeback win over Carolina.

The 58 snaps Johnson played Sunday were the most he's been on the field this season and tied a career-high. After being on the field for 33 and 42 of Minnesota's offensive plays in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, the most he had recorded was 11 (Weeks 4 and 6).

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't tough. But that's the nature of the game," Johnson told Twin Cities media members on Wednesday. "There's times where you'll face adversity, but you just have to bounce back, take the punches, keep rolling, keep working.

"Don't let the game of football and everything in the adversity get bigger than it is," he added.

Johnson said it wasn't difficult to keep Sunday's game in perspective and maintain a calm demeanor. He reminded that he took over for Thielen last season when the starting receiver suffered an injury at Detroit.

"I think that was probably more of a shock for me last year just because I was a rookie coming in," Johnson explained. "This year and this last game, it was nothing for me. The preparation was the same. My preparation hasn't changed just because I haven't been starting. I was ready for the opportunity."

View exclusive images shot by the Vikings photographers from the Vikings-Panthers game during Week 12 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The 2019 seventh-round draft pick stays at the ready each and every week.

"It's the NFL. This is my job. I have to come into work every day prepared to play, and if I don't, I don't," Johnson said. "But that doesn't mean I can just relax and kind of sit back and let Adam and Justin do their thing. I still have to be ready. I know all three positions on the field for receiver at all times."

Quarterback Kirk Cousins opened his Wednesday media session by saying he wanted to "make sure I give a lot of credit" to Johnson, Chad Beebe and Jefferson for the way they played.

Although Thielen's absence while on the Reserve/COVID-19 list opened the door for Johnson's increased playing time, he's happy to have the elder receiver back in the fold this week. Thielen was activated Wednesday, which means Johnson is back to preparing to fill any receiver spot at a moment's notice.

Johnson said he "really looks up to" Thielen, a leader in the position room, and noted that he FaceTimed Thielen after the win to go over the game.

"I [told him], 'Yeah, I didn't get my depth on this route.' He was like, 'Man, don't sweat it too much. It comes with playing the game a little here and there,' " Johnson recounted. "So just seeing how he works in practice and everything, I really admire it, and I aspire to be like that in six, seven, eight years when I'm there."