CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 02: Michael Johnson #93 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates during the 23-20 victory against the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson completed his third season last year, generating a career high in quarterback sacks (6.0), tackles (51), hits on the quarterback (6) along with his first interception and forced fumble. Comparatively speaking it was his best season spanning a short young NFL career, which started with the Bengals selecting him in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft. All of that being said the Cincinnati Bengals want to cut down on his snaps next season.
According to Bengals.com beat writer Geoff Hobson, the reasoning for cutting down Johnson's defensive snaps isn't so much the lack of production, rather a high-octane motor that may have wore him down later during the season, compounded by "nagging injuries".
"He plays so hard. He played more snaps than anyone on our defensive front," Lewis said of Johnson. "We have to continue take some snaps off his plate so we can get that high level all the time. (Fanene and Rucker) took some (snaps), but not as many as we thought at the end of the day. Michael played through injury, he just kept playing, which showed how tough he was."
The Bengals will be able to rotate recently acquired defensive ends like Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey. Last year Johnson and Robert Geathers primarily rented space as the team's right defensive end, with Frostee Rucker, Jonathan Fanene and Dunlap holding the left edge.
Johnson will be entering his final season under a four-year rookie contract that he signed in 2009.