With age, 7 Pro Bowls come special consideration for Johnson

Friday, August 26, 2016, Vol. 40, No. 35


There has always been the debate about whether players respond better to coaches who played in the NFL vs. those who did not.

And based upon success, there are arguments to each side.

Bill Belichick never played professional football, yet is widely considered one of if not the best coach in the league.

Both of last year’s Super Bowl coaches – Denver’s Gary Kubiak and Carolina’s Ron Rivera – had lengthy NFL careers.

One edge a coach with playing experience has is their memory of what a physical toll the game can take on players, especially veterans.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey showed a glimpse of that recently regarding veteran receiver Andre Johnson.

Mularkey had been telling Johnson, who signed with the Titans just before training camp, to come to him whenever his 35-year-old body needed a day off. But Johnson kept practicing until Mularkey went to him.

“He has come out here. He hasn’t asked to be pulled,” Mularkey says of Johnson, who ranks eighth among NFL receivers in career receptions, No. 1 among active players, and has been selected to seven Pro Bowls.

“I told him, ‘It’s up to you. It’s your body. You know it better than I do.’”

Johnson says he appreciates the option, even if he chooses not to use it.

“It’s not about the reps. It probably is the most days I’ve practiced as far as consecutively in several years,” Johnson says. “The reps haven’t been a problem. He told me to take a day off and I didn’t. I felt fine. It’s the best I’ve felt in a while, as far as body-wise.”

Terry McCormick