Surviving Camp Part 1: Kyron Johnson Takes Care of His ZZZZZZs originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
OOver the next few weeks of training camp, while the Eagles try to decide who to stay on their 53-man roster, we’ll be meeting weekly with sixth-round SAM linebacker Kyron Johnson of Kansas. We’ll be following his progress as he attempted to create the Eagles roster.
A stone’s throw from the air conditioning pumping through the NovaCare complex, rookie Kyron Johnson didn’t seem too tired. Not after the longest workout of the summer. Not after spending the whole morning in the sweltering heat.
That’s because he has a secret weapon.
Well I guess it’s not the Secret; He tells anyone who will listen about the value of quiet. And that’s what propelled him through his first six training camps as an NFL player.
“That’s the one main thing that I probably tell everyone,” Johnson said Thursday. “I know I’m not as old as the vets, but I actually tell the vets that. Get some sleep. This is the most important thing that can help you.”
Yes, the 24-year-old figured out that sleep thing.
When asked what he likes to do in his hotel room in his free time, Johnson admitted he’s pretty boring. Most nights he walks the exercise band for 1 1/2-2 hours and then the lights are off. When pressed, Johnson would occasionally say he would watch some TV or play video games.
“…But I’m trying to sleep,” he said.
Typically, Johnson said he would call it a day around 9:30-10:00 p.m. His alarm clock rings at 7 a.m. every morning. So he gets around… wear the one… 9 hours of sleep every night. That’s enough to propel him through long days of lifting, practicing, and, as he put it, “meetings, meetings and more meetings.”
Between OTAs and the start of training camp, Johnson returned to Texas – that experience in the Heat helped him this week – and just mentally prepared.
“I wasn’t really nervous,” Johnson said. “I just knew I can’t control what I can’t control. So there is no reason to get angry about it. Just let it get you pumped.”
Life as a rookie can be difficult, especially for a late-round pick, but it seems like Johnson has settled in well in Philly. The hardest part of the transition is learning Jonathan Gannon’s defensive playbook, which will continue to expand for the novice throughout the install.
But Johnson definitely fits in. He had trouble fitting himself into the extrovert or introvert category. But he’s a friendly guy who seems to pride himself on his ability to just be himself and not fake a personality. He also makes friends.
One of those new friends is undrafted SAM linebacker Ali Fayad from western Michigan. Fayad was the 2021 MAC Defensive Player of the Year but is now fighting for a roster spot — or maybe even a spot on the practice team — in Philadelphia. Playing the same position and both being beginners learning a new defense, Johnson and Fayad really hit it off.
“He’s a really good player,” Johnson said of his new pal. “You should talk to him too.”
As for the veterans, Johnson said he gets tips from everyone but is genuinely attracted to Brandon Graham. Good guy to spend time with. Graham, 34, is entering the 13th grade and is the longest-tenured athlete in the city. On Thursday morning, Johnson had breakfast with Graham at the facility and the two chatted about working on the sidelines and Graham entertained Johnson with stories about his early experiences at training camp.
If you follow Graham on social media, you’ve probably seen him posting videos from the rookie talent show. Johnson sang “Cause I Love You” by Lenny Williams. Johnson grew up with Williams playing at his home and seemed pleased with his performance.
“They said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a vote,'” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘You haven’t heard the rest.'”
But the singing can wait. Johnson is busy these days.
Goal for next week: Johnson said he really worked on his exit as a pass rusher.
“I’ve only worked with the coach now. You just get used to it. I’ve played many positions, not just D-End. So if I stick my hand in the dirt it’s not like it’s new, but I have to get used to how I’m really supposed to get off the line.
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