Its time for this weeks’ edition of Earning their Stripes, a segment dedicated to Bengals players who have stepped up to play above and beyond expectations and had one of the best performances of the past Bengals contest. This weeks’ award goes to defensive-end Michael Johnson.
After a relatively quiet opening game against the Ravens, Johnson facEd Browns All-Pro left-tackle Joe Thomas last week and managed to get 1 QB pressure, 1 sack, and a fumble recovery. On Sunday vs. the Redskins who held the NFL’s #1 scoring while the Bengals were down Pro-Bowl corner Leon Hall, Johnson made sure Robert Griffin III had pressure in his face all game long, accounting for 3 sacks, 7 QB hits, and also played good run-support as he recorded 4 tackles-for-loss.
After 3 disappointing seasons which saw him only record 11 sacks, Johnson is already up to 4 this year, just 2 shy of his career season-high. His pass-rush is a huge boost to a Bengals team with a badly depleted secondary, and if he and fellow d-line mate Carlos Dunlap, Domata Peko and Geno Atkins can continue to pressure opposing QBs consistently, the Bengals may just be able to overcome their deficiencies. He’s in the midst of a contract season, so he knows that with every sack he gets from here on out, its more money in his pocket this spring.