MANKATO, Minn. –With two walk-throughs and a full training camp practice in the books, Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson is capitalizing on a strong offseason and feeling hyped for the season.
"I'm just happy I'm healthy and happy to be out here," Johnson said Saturday.
After missing a majority of the 2015 season dealing with a rib injury, Johnson now feels back to his old self.
Over the past two days of training camp, Johnson received a heavy number of first-team reps as the outside receiver opposite Stefon Diggs. He pulled in a couple of nice catches in front of 3,500 Vikings fans Friday afternoon.
"It was good to be back out here in Mankato and getting support from the fans. It's always good to be out here with the brothers competing and getting out there to get the job done."
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner said that having Johnson back at 100 percent is key.
"He's healthy, number one. He had a rib issue that was a real issue," Turner told media members during a press conference Saturday. "Charles has a good sense of doing what he needs to do to get ready and knowing that when you are called upon that you need to make the most of those opportunities.
"He's had a really good offseason, and he looks ready to go," Turner continued. "He is really running his routes well right now and catching the ball. It's a long process as we go through, and we are going to need all those guys."
Laquon Treadwell, the Vikings first-round draft pick, said during minicamp in June that he always had his eyes on Johnson because he felt the veteran receiver had things "down to a T."
Johnson said he does consider himself a leader, although he's not an overly vocal player.
"I lead by example," he said.
Johnson said he's continued to develop under the direction of wide receivers coach George Stewart, whom he said will always be transparent with his players.
"He's a good coach – we all love Coach Stew. He's really down to earth, and he's always going to keep it real with you," Johnson said. "He's going to love on us at the end, but if we do something wrong, he's going to let us know."
The fourth-year player also credits defensive teammates with helping him improve. Johnson lined up across from cornerback Xavier Rhodes a handful of times during Monday's practice. The two are friends off the field and push each other to be better on the field.
"We're always battling together, and we're always telling one another what we see, what we're thinking," Johnson said. "We converse a lot."
Johnson soaks up everything he can from the cornerback on the other side, as well. Trae Waynes is entering his 14th NFL season, and Johnson is constantly learning from the Vikings oldest roster member.
"Terence has been around the game for so long, I always go to him," Johnson said. "If he breaks on a route quicker than I thought, I go to him and say, 'What did you see? Why did you break on it so fast?' I like to know those things, because he's been around so long. Terence is teaching those things to Xavier, which is developing his game, [so] it's been good to go against both those guys."
Turner has been in the league twice as long – and then some – as Newman, and he brings his expertise to the Vikings offense each and every day. As the team gears up for the 2016 season, Turner is glad to have Johnson in its arsenal.
"Charles has got a very good catch radius," Turner said. "He's a competitive receiver. He's fast. He does a lot of things well."