Tag Archives: cleveland browns

Johnson, Dennis ‘DJ’ (RB)

sage12-dejohnsonCards: Sage 2013, Donruss Rated 2013
Acquired: 2016, EBay

Dennis Johnson was an undersized speedster out of Arkansas who was overshadowed much of his career by Knile Davis.  During his 5 years for the Razorbacks Johnson amassed a nice resume, rushing 345 times for 2036 yards and 13 TDs.  He also showed promise as a receiver coming out of the backfield contributing 63 receptions for 510 yards and 4 TDs, and contributed on special teams with 119 returns for 2784 yards and 3 TDs.   Many NFL teams pegged him as a 3rd down/ change of pace scat back.  Despite an impressive stat line, Johnson was not selected in 2013.  He’d sign as a free agent with the Houston Texans.

pa13-dejohnsonThe Texans were doing some reshuffling at runningback, and were looking for a change of pace back to compliment the running attack led by oft injured Arian Foster and Ben Tate. They signed Johnson, Cierre Wood, and Ray Graham. While Johnson did have a nice preseason, including some sizzling plays, he also put the rock on the ground a few times. He’d be on the outside looking in during final cuts, but be picked up by the Browns.

The Texans in the meantime went through a disaster at runningback, as the team’s Super Bowl aspirations faded quickly out of the gate. With Foster and Tate both nursing injuries and Wood cut due to the Texans’ zero tolerance policy, Johnson was resigned by the Texans off the Browns practice squad. He’d start one game and rush for 183 yards in 8 contests.

With a new regime in town, Johnson was cut in August of 2014. He played for the the Brooklyn Bolts of the FXFL later that year, but as of 2017, he remains an NFL free agent.

DJ had some pretty nice looking cards available to me to choose from. I really liked his Sage entry. It was pretty awesome of him to pose for the photo jumping up in the air. It adds an entirely new level to what could’ve been an otherwise boring shot. The jersey material printed on the card is reminiscent of something I’d do to a custom, and it is executed well. DJ’s autograph on the Sage canvas is unique and interesting to look at.

The idea of a jersey card is neat and all, especially when it is a jumbo swatch, but it becomes quite tricky to build a satisfying composition for the rest of the assets when it takes up so much space. Case in point this Donruss Rated rookie card. The patch takes up so much space we’re left with a discombobulated and disconnected DJ barely poking out from the right side of the card.  The autograph isn’t even completely framed up on the card, and either goes underneath the card material or is incomplete.

Pruitt, Greg

Card: Topps 1978
Acquired: 2016, Future Considerations

An elusive and explosive back out of the backfield at the University of Oklahoma, Greg Pruitt finished 3rd in Heisman voting in 1971 and 2nd in 1972. The All-American rushed for 3,122 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Sooners over his time there.  Measuring up at 5’10”, 190 Pruitt was lucky not to take a pounding, because defenders rarely got squared up on him.

The Cleveland Browns were intrigued by the diminutive back,  and selected Greg with their second round pick of the 1973 draft slotting him behind their future HOF runningback Leroy Kelly. Pruitt was as advertised and immediately added an extra charge to the Browns offense primarily as a kick returner and punt returner. In 4 of his first 5 seasons, Greg earned Pro Bowl honors. It’d be in 1975 that he’d really hit his stride as a runningback, cranking out 3 straight 1,000+ yard seasons in a row as well as demonstrating a knack as a reliable receiving option out of the backfield.  In 1974 and 1975, Pruitt had nearly 1,800 all purpose yards, and achieved at least 1,100 all purpose yards 6 times over 12 seasons.  He’d enjoy career highs at receptions in 1980 (50) and then 1981 (65), before taking his show to Oakland to join the Raiders as their return man. In 1983 he’d lead the NFL in punt returns, putting together a whopping 58 returns for 666 yards and a 97 yard TD, earning his final pro bowl berth. The 58 returns and 97 yard TD were second in NFL history, while the 666 yards was an NFL record (all since surpassed).  He’d win a Superbowl XVIII ring and retire after the 1984 season.

Greg Pruitt had some amazing highlight film of him running through defenders hands as they literally tore his jerseys off his pads. The problem was he intentionally wore those tear away jerseys so he could shake off those pesky tacklers.  In response the NFL enacted the ‘Greg Pruitt Rule’ preventing any player from wearing tear away jerseys in 1979.

Greg was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Cleveland Browns Legends Class of 2001.  Many of his records still stand tall on the Browns records lists, both single season and career. He currently lives in the Cleveland area where he owns a construction company.

DeadHorse went to a nearby signing to him in Ohio and came up with a few signatures for me from old Browns runningback greats Earnest Byner, Kevin Mack, and Greg Pruitt.  Thankfully DeadHorse was paying attention as I got Greg and Mike Pruitt confused. He switched out my Mike Pruitt card and came through with a nice autograph for the collection.

G/GS  158/82     RUSH   1196    YDS  5672    AVG 4.7    TD 27   LG 78t
REC 328     YDS 3069    AVG 9.4    TD 18    LG 60t
KR  106    YDS 2514   AVG 23.7    TD 1    LG 88t
PR  194    YDS 2007  AVG 10.3    TD 1   LG 97t

Gonzalez, Zane

Card: Sage 2017
Acquired: 2017, Box Breaker

Looking at the stat line, Zane Gonzalez stands first in FBS history nailing 96 field goals over his 4 years at Arizona St.  He’s also pretty accurate hitting about 86% of those attempts, including 23 of 25 as a Senior for the Sun Devils. Gonzalez has a strong leg and has steadily improved over the last 3 years. Scouts ding him on the angle he takes in pursuit of kick returners, but let’s face it- he’s a kicker, not a torpedo.  Facts aside that he’s not Neil Rackers, Gonzalez was selected in the seventh round of the 2017 draft by the Cleveland Browns, where he will go head to head with Cody Parkey in camp.