Dennis Johnson looking for new NFL team

September 07, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

After starting nine games last season and having more tackles and quarterback sacks than any other defensive lineman on the Arizona Cardinals, Dennis Johnson thought he was secure for the 2004 season.

That changed Sunday when the former Harrodsburg and University of Kentucky standout was cut by the Cardinals just one week before the National Football League season starts.

"Sometimes you just can't figure them out," Alvis Johnson, Dennis' father, said Sunday. "He's hoping his agent will hear from other teams once he officially clears waivers. He's looking for a new place to play."

The Cardinals made Johnson a third round draft pick in 2002 when he decided to bypass his final year at Kentucky to enter the draft. He played in 13 games in 2002 and made 15 tackles. Last year he played in 15 games and had 42 tackles, including 27 solo stops, and five pass deflections.


Johnson broke his hand the first week of preseason practice and played only one play in one exhibition game because of the injury. That gave new coach Dennis Green and his staff little time to evaluate Johnson. The Cardinals also acquired defensive end Peppi Zellner from Oakland last week.

"Dennis definitely did not know this was coming," Alvis Johnson said. "He really had not been able to do very much because of his hand. He still has a cast on it, but he says he can play. The new coaching staff never gave him a lot of repetitions in practice because of his hand.

"If they were going to cut him, I wish they would have done it several weeks ago. This was probably not the worst time he could have been cut, but the timing could have been better. Three or four weeks into the season would have been worse, but teams are all trying to trim rosters, not add players, right now, too. He just has to wait, stay ready and hope he gets a chance to play again."

Dennis Johnson had no idea he was about to be released when the Cardinals gave him the news about noon Sunday. That's about the same time that former UK players Tim Couch (Green Bay), James Whalen (Cincinnati) and Aaron Boone (Chicago) also found out they were being released.

"He never anticipated this based on all that was going on. They had brought in six or eight ends, but he thought he was secure because no one ever told him any different until Sunday," Alvis Johnson said. "It just goes to show what can happen with a new coaching regime. It's why you have to be make the most of each opportunity you get.

"He's working out today to stay ready just in case he gets a call and someone wants him ready to play Sunday. He says he can play with the small cast he has on his left hand now. It would hamper him some, but he says he can play."

If Johnson doesn't get picked up by another team, it will leave the area with just one NFL player - Kansas City tight end Jason Dunn, another former Harrodsburg player.

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