The Canadian Football League wasn't his first choice, but Micah Johnson needed to provide.
At home for three months with his 16-month-old son in Northern Virginia, the 6-foot-2, 265-pound linebacker was running out of professional football options before the Green Bay Packers called this past week.
With the NFL dream was flickering after being cut by Cincinnati at the end of training camp, the 6-foot-2, 265-pound linebacker was close to taking up the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League on a standing offer to work out for next year’s team.
Before that could happen, the former University of Kentucky standout received an offer to work out for the Packers, who days later signed him to the practice squad.
“That was my next option and another opportunity, but to have to go all the way up there and play when you feel you can be playing here,” said Johnson of the CFL offer.
“Practice squad or not, no matter what the deal is it’s better than sitting at home. It’s more money paying me than any job I’d have back home, so it’s just a great opportunity. To be able to play football again, something I’ve been doing since I was 4 years old, it’s a huge opportunity.”
Johnson came into the NFL as an inside linebacker before moving to defensive end with the Bengals, but the Packers have Johnson penciled in at outside linebacker for the moment.
Since entering the league with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Johnson has played in one NFL game and spent time on practice squads in Miami, Kansas City and Cincinnati, but never heard from Green Bay until this past week.
Still, Johnson has several ties to the Packers. He was teammates with wide receiver Randall Cobb and punter Tim Masthay during his time at Kentucky and played with linebacker Erik Walden in 2010 with the Dolphins.
During his time with the Wildcats, Johnson was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference inside linebacker as a junior when he finished second in the conference with 93 tackles.
After being cut by the Bengals, Johnson took up cross-fit after seeing the TV infomericals and did his best to stay in shape working out individually at home despite having no guarantees the phone would ring again.
Now that it has, Johnson is motivated to make good on his long-awaited opportunity, feeling he still has a lot to give to an NFL team.
“It was really exciting because I was really disappointed when Cincinnati let me go,” Johnson said. “It was a long wait and it was probably one of the most frustrating times of my life this past two months sitting at the house. You’re trying to work out, trying to stay motivated to work out. You’re doing what you can without knowing if you’re working out for a reason or not. If all the hard work you’re putting in is going in vein.
“I feel like it can be a good opportunity and I’m going to make sure I capitalize off this. I guarantee it.”
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