*(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2013 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features safety Matt Johnson.) *
Name: Matt Johnson
Height/Weight: 6-1 / 215
Experience: 1 season
College: Eastern Washington
Key stat: The key number for Johnson is three. That's how many hamstring injuries he suffered in about five months. Injuries plagued him all season, keeping him out of any action, other than one preseason game.
Contract Status: Signed through 2015
2012 Impact: Other than the scouts on this team, there are few people that have studied as much tape on Matt Johnson as me. When he was drafted by the Cowboys in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft I understood what they saw in the player to make that call. In college Johnson was a hitter that played with range and was always around the ball. I thought he would be a nice fit in what Rob Ryan was trying to do with his scheme. He wasn't standing around piles but he was in them. The problem for Johnson in my view was that he was really never a part of the off season program. He arrived late from Eastern Washington and didn't get the same benefit as the other rookies that were just added to the team. He missed OTAs and other mini camps. It wasn't the mental problems for Johnson but the physical ones. He got behind and was never able to catch up. He hurt his hamstring and as we have all learned from Miles Austin, once it happens the first time, the next one is right around the corner. As Johnson continued to try and heal, the defensive coaches had a plan for him and during the week of the first meeting with the Eagles in November where the coaches were trying to get him ready and what I remember at that time where I asked Ryan about how practice was going for him and he was very encouraged with the way he was progressing but he once again suffered another set-back in practice and was finally put down ending his disappointing rookie season.
Where He Fits:Even with the move that the front office made with Gerald Sensabaugh on Monday, I believed that the club would still draft a safety in this 2013 NFL Draft. Now it will not only look like they will draft a safety but potentially add one in free agency or they could move Sterling Moore inside full-time which is a position that he has played before. Johnson just needs to try and put 2012 behind him and [embedded_ad] work hard to get himself ready for 2013. There is no doubt that he will be in the mix for the job most likely playing next to Barry Church. Again, just from studying tape of him, he can play up or with range on the back end. I really do believed that he missed an opportunity to show what he could do much like Tyrone Crawford and James Hanna did last season but hopefully those problems he had last season are far behind him.
Nick Eatman – We really don't know much about Matt Johnson that we didn't back in May – other than he was certainly susceptible to hamstring injuries. And since he played at Eastern Washington, Johnson still hasn't fully shed that small-school label yet. Obviously, the Cowboys feel like he is a player, or will be one. At this point, everyone is anxious to see it. But considering the move to cut Sensabaugh before free agency and the draft, it's clear the Cowboys are putting even more faith in this draft pick.