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Updated: December 9th, 2010 3:58pm
Notebook: Tyrell Johnson frustrated with season gone 'down the drain'

Notebook: Tyrell Johnson frustrated with season gone 'down the drain'

by Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The best play of Tyrell Johnson's forgettable season might have been his last.

Playing on the kickoff-coverage unit in Sunday's win over Buffalo, Johnson slammed into Bills tight end Jonathan Stupar so hard that Stupar flew back into returner Leodis McKelvin, who dropped a fumble Frank Walker recovered to set up a touchdown.

Several teammates came off the sideline to congratulate Johnson, but he hobbled slowly past them, favoring his left leg. His foot had gotten caught in the ground and then bent awkwardly from the outside in, leaving him with a sprained medial collateral ligament.

"It is frustrating," Johnson said on Thursday. "I told Jamarca (Sanford), I said, 'I couldn't even get up to celebrate.'"

That Johnson has had so little to celebrate this season made it a particularly disappointing moment.

The former second-round pick went to training camp believing he would make huge strides in his third season -- he even mentioned the Pro Bowl -- and ended up losing his starting job to Husain Abdullah. He since has made two fill-in starts, recorded only three tackles (plus two on special teams) and been deactivated five times.

"I feel like everything I worked for kind of went down the drain this year," Johnson said. "That's life, though. You've just got to keep on keeping on, and after awhile, if you believe enough, you work enough, you'll get exactly what's coming to you."

Johnson wouldn't rule out playing again this season -- "It's a day-to-day thing," he said -- but wouldn't say he'll definitely be back either. He's entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract, which included a $1.469 million signing bonus.

Many within the Vikings organization remain high on Johnson, who was graded as a first-round pick coming out of Arkansas State. But coaches felt more comfortable with Abdullah and Madieu Williams coming out of camp and have stuck with them even when they've struggled.

Asked whether he believes he'll have a chance to start again for the Vikings, Johnson said only that he looks forward to competing.

"I've always said whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," Johnson said. "You can't control what somebody else thinks about you. All you can do is go out there and continue to be yourself. I've always been a firm believer that you've got to be you. You've got to go out there and do the best that you can do each day in life, and whoever doesn't like you -- I mean, that's really just their problem. It's nothing personal. It's just more of you can only do what you can do. And if that's not good enough, it's just not."

Webb plans to suit up

Joe Webb doesn't think he'll be up to playing any more receiver this week, but the versatile rookie said his sore hamstring wouldn't keep him from suiting up as the No. 3 quarterback on Sunday against the New York Giants.

"Of course, I can be available," Webb said. "Especially just being available as a quarterback, knowing I won't have to do as much running as a receiver or in the kickoff game. But yeah, (the hamstring is) getting better day-by-day and I'm just taking it one day at a time."

Making his NFL debut on Sunday, Webb returned the opening kickoff and played one snap on offense before hurting the hamstring on while blocking on the punt-return team. He said he's still "at the jogging stage" and isn't sure when he'll try running full-speed.

Asked what he can do with Webb, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell cracked, "Nothing now, old one-play Joe. Joe's a big athlete. He's strong, he's fast. Really like what he's been doing at quarterback. Like the way he's been progressing there. Felt like we had an opportunity to get him active last week, had a few things for him to be able to do. Again, it just didn't pan out the way we wanted it to. He went down pretty quick."

Out of options

With Percy Harvin, Toby Gerhart and Webb all battling injuries, special teams coordinator Brian Murphy again is scrambling to cobble together options on kick returns.

He finished Sunday's game with halfback Albert Young, who suffered a knee injury and landed on injured reserve. The player who took Young's spot on the roster, halfback Lorenzo Booker, could get a look against the Giants.

"You have limited amount of time and you rep as many guys as you can," Murphy said. "I know this -- I'm not going to do it, and Leslie Frazier isn't going to do it. Darrell Bevell is a former all-Big Ten guy, so he may do it. Somebody has to do it.

"You rep as many guys as you can and the guys that are in the meetings, you teach guys to play multiple positions and get ready to roll. This year is a lot different than last year. Last year, you kind of settled on guys and they did it, but every week has been something new."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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