Kevin Johnson feels like his best football is in front of him.
Johnson, a cornerback selected in the first round by the Houston Texans in 2015, has only played a full 16-game season twice in his career. Injuries have hampered his development — he dealt with foot injuries and concussions in the last four seasons — but that's why Johnson still believes his best season has yet to come.
"It was a lot for me," Johnson said Monday in a video call with local reporters. "It was hard for me to adjust to what was going on, but through it all, I feel like it made me mentally stronger."
Johnson made a step in the right direction last year with the Buffalo Bills, where he played in 16 games for the first time since his rookie season and made 36 tackles. The Browns gave him a chance to build on a productive — and healthy — season with a one-year deal, and Johnson is confident that he'll take another positive step in Cleveland.
"I liked the new coaching staff, and this team has a ton of talent," Johnson said. "I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder. I just want to be the player I want to be."
Johnson has done everything he can to prove to Browns coaches that, yes, his best football still is in front of him. He's been arguably the flashiest defensive player thus far and followed up an interception on Day 1 of practice with a few pass deflections on Day 2.
The competition for roles behind Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, the two presumed starters, is wide open. Johnson has ample experience as a slot corner, but he's making an early case for an even bigger role early in camp.
Wherever he goes, Johnson is confident he'll make the most of it.
"I'll play wherever they want me to play," Johnson said. "Inside or outside, wherever that may be. I'm here to put my best foot forward and do whatever they ask me to do to the best of my ability."
-Olivier Vernon has spent eight seasons going against some of the best tackles in football.
In training camp, he'll take plenty of reps against Jedrick Wills Jr., the Browns' first-round draft pick who's currently undergoing a transition from right to left tackle.
Wills' comfortability and success at the position will be important for how strong the Browns' offensive line will be in 2020, and Vernon, who's faced Wills on the first two days of team practices, believes Wills has the skills to be a stud.
"He's putting the work in," Vernon said. "He's just trying to get better technique wise. It's going to be a fast learning curve for him. All he can do right now is soak in what he can. The sky's the limit for him."
Check out photos from the third day of Browns Camp
-Coach Kevin Stefanski is well in-tune with what skills are needed to play the safety position — that's where he played as a college player at Penn.
Stefanski made the safety position a priority this offseason and added veterans Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo as well as Grant Delpit, the Browns' second-round draft pick. The Browns started the offseason with a talent gap at safety. Now, the question is which players — all of whom have talent — will receive the most reps.
Stefanski believes the position has become a bigger priority as offenses around the league continue to emphasize speed and big-play ability.
"I played it — but remember, I did not play it well," Stefanski joked, "but I do know what it looks like when it is good. There are a lot of playmakers in this game at that level of the defense playing safety and you got some guys that attack the ball. I'm excited for the guys that we have on the roster."
-The Browns have seen a few players miss team practices with soft tissue injuries, which are not uncommon for most teams in training camp as players begin to ramp up the physical activity they'll experience in a real game.
Stefanski said the Browns medical team has utilized various "sports science" resources to ensure injuries are kept to a minimum. For example, players wear technology that tracks how far they run in a given practice, and that can ensure a player isn't overworking muscles and ligaments.
"You can come off of practice and understand the load that they had that day and be mindful for the next couple of days," Stefanski said. "We are going to let the science guide us in terms of how we structure practice, maybe how long we go, how hard we go at times, so it just will not look like that, the whole way through. We have to be using all the avenues we have here. All the resources we have to make sure that we are putting our players in a safe environment."