Jets’ Johnson held out for ‘in-house matter’


The Associated Press

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Trumaine Johnson’s tough first season with the New York Jets hit another rough patch.

The team’s top cornerback was held out of practice Wednesday for what coach Todd Bowles called “an in-house matter.”

Both Bowles and Johnson declined to discuss details of their conversation or why the player was kept off the field. Johnson says he “of course” expects to return to practice Thursday and play at New England in the season finale Sunday.

“Me and the head man talked about it,” Johnson said. “That’s between us.”

Johnson is listed on the team’s first injury report of the week as having not practiced with the reason being “not injury related.” When asked whether it was a disciplinary issue, Johnson repeated his response about it being between him and Bowles.

Because of a quadriceps injury and inconsistency Johnson has struggled at times to live up to the five-year, $72.5 million contract he signed with New York that included $34 million guaranteed. He has a team-leading four interceptions, but also has some costly miscues and penalties — including a pass interference call in overtime that prolonged Green Bay’s winning drive last Sunday.

“Well, nobody had a good season because of the [team’s] record,” Bowles said. “But it’s been up and down. He’s had some good plays, he had some plays that he’d like to have back.”

Bowles also said he has no issue with Johnson’s approach on or off the field.

“He’s had a good attitude,” the coach said. “There’s nothing wrong with his attitude.”

Johnson left the Jets’ locker room after the game without speaking to reporters, but apologized Wednesday for doing so.

“I was definitely upset,” Johnson said. “But I took that the wrong way. I definitely should talk to you after the game — win or lose. That was my fault.”

With the game tied at 38, the Packers were facing a third-and-10 from their 40 when Aaron Rodgers’ deep pass for Marquez Valdes-Scantling was incomplete. That would have forced Green Bay to punt, but Johnson was called for defensive pass interference.

It was a spot foul, so it cost the Jets 33 yards — putting the Packers at the New York 27 — and setting up the winning touchdown pass by Rodgers to Davante Adams a few minutes later.

“They called it, it hurt us,” Johnson said.

It was one of a whopping 16 penalties against the Jets for a team-record 172 yards.

Johnson was expected to shore up the Jets’ secondary this season after six years with the Rams, giving Bowles a No. 1-type cornerback to pair with Morris Claiborne, nickel back Buster Skrine and safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. The group labeled itself “New Jack City” during training camp and set a goal of being the best set of defensive backs in the league.

Adams made the Pro Bowl in his second season and is one of the game’s rising players, but the defensive backs as a whole have not had the impact they expected. New York is ranked 26th in the NFL in pass defense, with opposing offenses throwing at will at times against the Jets.

Johnson missed five games in the middle of the season with a quadriceps injury that lingered for weeks before he was finally able to return to the field.

“With the injury and losing games, of course,” the 28-year-old Johnson said when asked if this has been his toughest season. “But, it’s going to turn around.”

The Jets are 4-11 and Bowles is expected to be fired at some point after the regular-season finale. Johnson thinks brighter days are ahead for him and the team because he has seen firsthand with the Rams how franchises can bounce back.

“I’ve been down this road before,” Johnson said. “I don’t like talking about my old team, but we were in the same situation — losing, losing, losing — and we finally flipped it. And, I believe that in this team, too.”

NOTES: Claiborne (shoulder/ankle), WRs Quincy Enunwa (ankle) and Jermaine Kearse (Achilles tendon), DL Mike Pennel (tooth), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) and K Jason Myers (left hip) all did not practice. LB Jordan Jenkins (ankle) was limited. … Kearse was selected by reporters who cover the team as the winner of the annual media good guy award, named after former New York Times writer Gerald Eskenazi. QB Josh McCown was last year’s recipient.

By Paul Wager

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