Johnson, Travis

Card: Upper Deck Rookie Foundations 2005
Acquired: Purchase, 2010

Travis Johnson was the number one rated defensive tackle coming out of Florida State in 2005. The Texans (with Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson on the board) traded down drafting Travis with the 16th overall pick. It was considered an overall weak draft at this position. I was incredibly angry at this pick -but supportive of the team’s move going for an unglamorous position of need. Johnson saw playing time in his rookie season starting 3 games making a sack and 23 tackles. In terms of being a two gap lineman or having a high speed motor, Johnson would have problems amounting to even generating the power of a weed whacker- constantly outperformed by grizzled veterans and free agent fodder. In 2006, Johnson started 8 games making  just 11 tackles in the team’s 3-4 defense. After the season, head coach Dom Capers and the staff were fired. With a new regime and general manager in charge the Texans made the switch to a 4-3 defense. Starting 13 games in 2007 Travis had 41 tackles and 5 pass defensed and an interception from the defensive tackle position. In a controversial play against the Dolphins that season (that virtually ended quarterback Trent Green’s career,) Green dove low on a block, hitting Travis near the knees, flipping Johnson up in the air. As Green laid unconscious on the turf, Johnson got up and angrily lambasted the downed quarterback. He was reprimanded on the sidelines by head coach Gary Kubiak, but after the game, Travis maintained that he was angry about how Green was trying to end his career by diving at his knees. Johnson was largely labeled a ‘hood’ after the incident and maligned both in the media and by fans. His 2008 saw him playing more from the doghouse in a rotation of defensive tackles with occasional flashes of brilliance followed by complete mental lapses. During training camp in 2009 the Texans traded Travis to the San Diego Chargers for a conditional 5th round draft choice where he currently plays through 2010. The trade stunned the young tackle who was recovering from a sports hernia which he claims to have limited his effectiveness since his drafting. As the Texans certainly regarded this pick as a failure because of his non-eye opening stats, how he will be judged remains to be seen till his career ends.

Travis is a much kinder and smarter person than the media portrays him and while off the field incidents and situations such as the Trent Green one didn’t help, a change of scenery was probably best for the young tackle where hopefully he can rehabilitate his image, as Travis’ fire has been misunderstood as a ‘thug mentality’. While getting together my blitz for the 2010 Texans, I thought it’d be great to try to get the autographs of all the former first round Houston Texans. I checked into the values of the cards and found all of the players authenticated autographs reasonably cheap on I rarely purchase autographs, but from the historical aspect thought I could make an exception for Johnson, Carr, and Babin.

G/Gs 54/38    Tac 133   Sac 3   Fum 1    Int 1  Yds 0   Avg 0.0   Td 0  Lg 0