(News4usonline) – Quentin Johnston is trying to earn his keep with the Los Angeles Chargers. The rookie wide receiver has gotten an extensive look in training camp and in preseason games. The evaluation process so far from head coach Brandon Staley has been good.
“I’m really pleased with his development,” Staley said after a recent practice. “I think, when he first came into his rookie minicamp to now, just the improvement that he’s made as a player — but I think what we’ve wanted to establish, and I think he’s shown it on the practice field, is that he belongs out there. He’s made plays consistently throughout training camp. Really, throughout the springtime, throughout training camp, and he just needs to stay on track of improving.”
The Chargers are already loaded at the wide receiver slot. Keenan Allen, Mke Williams, and Joshua Palmer are the top three go-to receivers for quarterback Justin Herbert. Johnston, who was taken at No. 21 in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, would likely be the No. 4 receiver. At 6-4 and 215 pounds, the former TCU star gives Herbert another big target to go down the field to and connect with.
Johnston has done a good enough job so far to impress his head coach.
“This was a great camp for him,” Staley continued. “He showed really good stamina throughout camp, being able to be healthy throughout camp and work through all of the things that you have to work through as a rookie. He has real toughness. He practices really hard. He’s studying. He’s learning how to study and prepare. The learning curve is huge coming from college for that position. He’s just stayed steady. Working through the mistakes, but I think you guys have seen. His ability to consistently make plays at this level is exciting.”
For his part, Johnston feels like he is making some headway in his development as an NFL wide receiver.
“The stuff I’m happy with is kind of my improvement,” Johnston said. “Just me being more knowledgeable about the game. Knowing how to run the routes at different speeds and reading the defense, stuff like that. Things I still need to work on — for me, I feel like it’s being more aggressive to the catch. I obviously, had a few drops last week, like I just said, that I feel like should have been very catchable. I just wasn’t aggressive enough. I’m constantly working on that every day.”
Part of Johnston’s growth is taking ownership of his mistakes. That includes moving on from plays he doesn’t make. Improvement means not dwelling on dropped balls or the like. That’s something he used to do, Johnston said.
“Myself about three or four years ago, yeah,” Johnston said. “Now, I realize that the game is much bigger than just that drop,” Johnston said. “It’s how you bounce back from that drop. Usually, a while back especially, starting college off, I’d get a drop and I’d kind of let my head hang low and it would follow me through the rest of the game.
“I could see it on tape. Everybody could see it in the stands. I looked up and when that happened to me, it wasn’t in the best interest of the team. I just have to learn to keep moving forward. Have short-term memory for that kind of stuff and catch the next one.”
A good starting point for Johnston has been matching up with and going head-to-head with teammate Derwin James during practices. James is often recognized as one of the best free safeties in the NFL. James is ranked No. 30 on the NFL’s Top 100 players list.
“I feel like it’s preparing me a lot, given that he’s the best safety in the league, in my opinion, and everybody’s opinion, I would say,” Johnston said. “I’m kind of just picking his brain, too, on and off the field. Just kind of seeing what he sees. He tells me sometimes that he kind of knows where I’m going based off my alignments. I take that, fix it, straighten it up. Then I go back, watch film and see what he does. Kind of just feeding on that. Depending on what my route is, whether I should run it fast, slow or kind of fit in the hole or whatever. I’ve definitely learned a lot from him.”
Top Image Caption: Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Quentin Johnson (1) in pregame warm-ups with Terrell Bynum (35) before the team engages in an NFL preseason game with the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on Aug. 12, 2023. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline
Dennis has covered and written about politics, crime, social justice, sports, and entertainment. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University.