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Running back Ty Johnson’s big opportunity comes for the Detroit Lions

With starter Kerryon Johnson placed on injured reserve, the former Terp will have his chance as the go-to guy in Detroit.

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

With Detroit Lions starting running back Kerryon Johnson headed to the injured reserve with a knee injury, the opportunity to solidify himself as a mainstay in the NFL is now for the former Maryland standout running back Ty Johnson.

Ty Johnson was drafted as the 186th pick in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Lions in May. With the emergence of Kerryon Johnson last season, the Lions likely viewed Ty Johnson as a long term backup and change of pace running back for the team’s future. Now with the injury, it will be up to Ty Johnson to lead the way for the Detroit rushing game, along with fellow backups JD McKissic and Paul Perkins.

On the season thus far, Ty Johnson has rushed the ball 23 times for a total of 86 yards and an average of 3.6 yards per carry. His best and most efficient game came in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers, when he ran the ball five times for 30 yards and also hauled in two catches for six yards.

As seen when Ty Johnson suited up for the Terps during his four years in College Park, the ability is there for him as a starting running back. He was one of the most explosive backs Maryland has had in recent memory and sets himself apart from others at the position due to his top notch speed.

He wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine during the draft process, but at Maryland’s pro day he excelled at the 40-yard dash. The Cumberland, Maryland, native left scouts in awe when he was clocked unofficially as fast as 4.26 for the 40-yard dash, which would have been the fastest time for a running back at the combine.

His time also would have made him the fastest overall player at the combine, beating out Zedrick Woods of Mississippi State by .03 seconds.

In addition to Ty Johnson’s elite speed and explosiveness, he also has great vision of the field and has the patience necessary to allow for his blockers to make a hole for him to attack.

Although this skill was not utilized too often during his time in College Park, Ty Johnson has shown to be a very capable receiver out of the backfield.

During his sophomore season with the Terps, he had 206 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air. Ty Johnson also showed his receiving skills during the preseason when he caught a touchdown in the red zone during this year’s preseason.

From a fantasy football perspective, TY Johnson should now be someone rostered in all leagues and formats. He likely will start at the RB3/Flex value, but could creep into the RB2 range if he excels in his new role. His name was trending across the country on Twitter as the best waiver to pick up this week.

The Lions rank in the bottom half of the league, 19th overall, when it comes to rushing attempts on the season, but that is likely more so due to the fact that they’ve already had their bye week, unlike a lot teams ahead of them. The former Terp should play a huge role in the Lions offense going forward.

Ty Johnson should be able to shoulder the load for the Lions rushing game for the rest of the season, or until Kerryon Johnson comes back when he is eligible in eight weeks. He has proven in college that he is an extremely effective running back and Terp fans should expect for him to do the same as the season progresses in Detroit.

Week 8 previews of other key NFL Terps

  • Wide receiver Stefon Diggs will look to continue his recent production as the Vikings take on the Redskins on Thursday Night Football. The combination of the Redskins weak pass defense and the absence of Adam Thielen due to a hamstring injury should be key to Diggs’ success.
  • Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue could be in store for another big week as well as the Jaguars take on the Jets. New York’s offensive line is tied for fourth in allowing the most sacks this season, so look for Ngakoue to put in a solid performance.
  • Wide receiver DJ Moore and the Panthers come off bye this week against the undefeated 49ers. San Francisco has boasted one of the best defenses in the league to this point, so it could be an uphill battle for Moore to put up big numbers this week.

Tune in every week to the Terps in the Pros podcast for more on all the NFL Terps and former Maryland players across all leagues. And also keep an eye out each week for our weekly roundup of every Terp in the NFL.