Michael Johnson's first five seasons in the NFL were some of the best years in his life.
Last year, not so much.
After a dismal season in Tampa Bay, Johnson was cut this offseason just one year after signing a massive contract with Tampa Bay that they're still paying him for. It didn't take long for Johnson to return to Cincinnati once he was cut. Now he's feeling "refreshed" to be back with his teammates and brothers.
"We’re going to go in and have fun and feed off each other. It’s just going to be good getting the band back together," Johnson said, via Bengals.com. "We’re going to come out and play hard and just have a good time. Coming to work is fun. It doesn't feel like work. When you can get that type of environment, that’s special. When you've got that, you want to keep it."
After registering 21 sacks from 2010-2013 in Cincinnati, Johnson could only muster four last year in Tampa while struggling with ankle and hand injuries. Johnson is so happy to be back in Cincinnati that he feels like a rookie again:
"And I came back refreshed. I have a knowledge of seven years of experience with the excitement of a rookie, really. I’m just ready to get back in the fold, get back in the mix of things. And take it to a whole other level and be even better."
If Johnson, only 28-years of age, can reclaim his pre-2014 form, then he and the rest of the Bengals defensive line should get back to terrorizing opposing quarterbacks again this year.
After all, that's how he and his Bengals family spend 'quality' time together.
"Nothing like a family and we’re family here. You can’t beat that."
Johnson was back home Monday morning at Paul Brown Stadium getting ready for OTAs after graduating from Georgia Tech this past week with a management degree.
Johnson's presence in Cincinnati prior to last season helped out the defensive line in numerous ways. He allowed situational pass-rushers like Wallace Gilberry to be used only on passing downs, and aging vets like Robert Geathers to get rest more. Without Johnson, both players suffered last year, combining for just 2.5 sacks in 2014, after recording 17 from 2012-13 when Johnson was still here.
It's easy to see how important having a strong bond on the d-line can be, as was the case when Johnson was in Cincinnati, and as will hopefully continue now that he's back.