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Vikings receiver Bisi Johnson rediscovers passion during recovery from knee injury

Now that he’s back on the field, Johnson is hoping to make an impact for the Vikings this season

SPORTS-VIKINGS-UNHERALDED-BISI-JOHNSON-ZOOMS-MS.jpg
The Vikings' Bisi Johnson seen in this 2019 file photo.
Carlos Gonzalez / Star Tribune
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Bisi Johnson started playing football when he was 7 years old. He thrived at wide receiver and the sport became a constant for him, something he could always rely on no matter what else was going on in his life.

Then he tore his anterior cruciate ligament last July during Vikings training camp. It was a rather innocuous play at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, and while Johnson actually left the field under his own power, he soon learned of the severity of his knee injury.

All of a sudden, he had a lot of time on his hands.

“It was a challenge,” he said. “I haven’t not played football since I was 7 years old.”

Asked about the time away, Johnson noted how it provided him with some perspective. He long has been able to rely on football to always been there for him. He also admittedly had started to take the game for granted over the years.

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“I think my appreciation for football grew a lot not being able to play for a year,” Johnson said. “You kind of get stagnant. You’re going through the same motions. You’re going to work every day. You’ve been practicing every Monday through Friday. You know, as much as I still loved it, I probably lost it a little. Then I sat out a year, and I’m like, ‘Damn. I really missed this.’ ”

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Now back on the same field where he injured his knee 10 months ago, Johnson has rediscovered his passion, and is hoping to pick up right where he left off. He already has spent time with the No. 1 offense during organized team activities and he could be a key contributor in new head coach Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

“I think the new scheme is great,” Johnson said. “We’re going to throw the ball quite a bit, so that’s exciting for me.”

As for mixing in with the No. 1 offense?

“I’ve done that before,” said Johnson, a seventh-round draft pick in 2019. “I’m not a stranger to that.”

This is true. As quarterback Kirk Cousins noted, Johnson was poised to be breakout player last season.

“I remember thinking in Year 3 he was going to take a big step,” Cousins said. “I’ve always had a high opinion of him, and I do think in Year 4 here I expect him to have a very productive year and provide a great deal of depth for us. I’m excited about him.”

So is offensive coordinator Wes Phillips, who lauded Johnson’s ability to pick up the new scheme quickly, which isn’t the easiest thing to do.

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“There’s a lot of intricacies,” Phillips said. “We’re not going to just spell it out and have the longest play calls known to man. Everything is coded. Everything has got the ability for us to get up to the line of scrimmage and go fast. Ultimately, that’s what we want so we can put pressure on the defense when we choose to.”

Though it’s unclear where Johnson fits into the new scheme, the only thing that matters to him is that he’s playing football again. He missed it more than he knew.

“I think the energy is incredible around the building,” Johnson said. “I think K.O. really has the whole team bought in. You know, this building is excited for the fresh start. I think it’ll be really good for us.”

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