Bears RB Roschon Johnson can't wait to get physical at practice

Roschon Johnson can't wait to get physical at practice originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Rookie minicamp can be a lot of fun. It’s the first real practice we get to watch dating back to the Super Bowl. The entire draft class gets together. Training camp hopefuls like guys brought in on tryouts have two or three days to show what they can do, as they try to earn more time with the team. The sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Hope springs eternal.

But one Bears player is ready to move things along to the middle of summer.

Roschon Johnson did not hold back when sharing his feelings about running around in shorts.

“I hate it.”

Johnson’s main gripe is that he can’t hit anybody. The Bears fourth-round draft pick doesn’t have blazing speed. Those are the guys who usually look the best when contact is limited. Instead, he makes defenders miss with his elusiveness, or by running through them. That’s how Johnson managed a 45% forced missed tackle rate over the last two yearsー which led all running backs in the country with at least 190 carries per PFFー despite running the 11th fastest 40-yard dash among 15 RBs who ran it at the 2023 NFL Combine.

But the rules are strict this time of year. Full contact is not allowed until training camp. In fact the Bears had one OTA taken away from them last year because their practices were too physical. Players on Friday said a big coaching point was making sure everyone stayed on their feet, i.e., making sure things never got rough enough that someone would be knocked to the ground.

“Down the road when we get pads on my playing style will definitely show,” Johnson said. “I hate practicing without pads on. I'm a physical guy so I think I will be able to show more when that time comes.

“There is a lot of stuff you’ve got to account for. You can't run into somebody with no shoulder pads on, you can't stiff arm somebody. Basically I just got to run and can't use my body as a weapon. That's the worst part about it.”

For now Johnson will try to impress in the classroom, show he’s absorbing all the details coaches teach him, do the right things at the right times and work up to playing instinctually on the field. But make no mistake, he’s looking forward to the day when he can lower his shoulder and punish a tackler.

"Definitely. All the time.”

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