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Despite Injury History, Johnson Still Has Opportunity


IRVING, Texas - When it comes to patience, the Cowboys seemingly have plenty in reserve regarding Matt Johnson's injury history.

As for Johnson himself, patience is certainly wearing thin on the third-year safety who has yet to play in an NFL game.

While he's trying to block out the past two years, which have included multiple hamstring injuries and a broken ankle/foot last season, Johnson said it's easier said than done.

"It's hard when your parents and guys back home are reading stuff and things," Johnson said. "I'm trying not to worry about that. My rookie year and last year I didn't do a great job of that. It's hard. More than anything I want to be out there. I feel like crap when I watch my teammates work hard. If I'm out there and kind of messing up or doing things wrongs, at least I'm out there working with my teammates and I can correct it. It's just hard to be on the sidelines when there are things I can't control."

But even though Johnson is still trying to control the situation. When it comes to preventive steps to avoid injury, the safety continues to try different things.

"I've been trying to do everything I can to stay healthy. I can't tell you why it's been like this," Johnson said. "I've been told I don't activate my gluts running. I've had a new diet. Making sure I stay hydrated, yoga, seeing a chiropractor once a week. I'm doing everything I can. For the most part, the soft tissue stuff is the most annoying stuff. For the most part, I have that under control. The whole breaking the ankle/foot thing was a fluke thing. I've been trying to stay on top of it."

Through it all, the Cowboys haven't changed their tune with Johnson. Even this week, head coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys are excited about seeing him on the field.

"The interesting thing about Matt is that every time we've given him an opportunity, he seems to do a pretty good job, whether it's in practice or some of the scrimmage situations that he's been in," Garrett said. "He just needs time on task. He needs to get out there. It seems to me that he's got a real good approach mentally. He continues to work. He doesn't seem outwardly frustrated. I'm sure he is, but he's just got to continue to work through it, get himself healthy. We're going to try to give him every chance to show us what he can do." [embedded_ad]

Even though Johnson hasn't played in a regular-season game, and he's yet to get through a preseason game without an injury setback, the door remains open for him to claim a spot.

The Cowboys haven't signed an experienced veteran or used a high draft pick on a safety the last two years, other than third-round pick J.J. Wilcox last season.

"Everything is open on this whole team, to be honest, other than a few exceptions," Johnson said. "I just want to get out there and compete. Me, personally, I'm just trying to get out there and knock the rust off from not playing last year, and stay healthy and be out there consistently … for once."

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