OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens veteran outside linebacker Jarret Johnson is one of the toughest, most durable players on a strong defense, eluding all recognition until now.
Johnson has been named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
He’s the third Ravens linebacker in the first four weeks of the regular season to win the award, following Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis.
The ninth-year pro from Alabama returned a fumble 26 yards for a touchdown and recorded three tackles, one for a loss, and had two quarterback hits in the Ravens’ 34-17 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium.
Johnson has played in 117 consecutive games, often playing through painful shoulder or back injuries.
He sprinted into the end zone after All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata drilled quarterback Mark Sanchez in the back to force the fumble.
"I just saw the ball bounce in front of me," Johnson said. "I just grabbed it and took off running. Haloti [Ngata] made a huge play, and, you know, I got to reap the rewards of what Haloti did."
Johnson didn’t have a touchdown celebration.
"I’m not going to dance, regardless," Johnson said. "I have no moves."
Prior to the Ravens’ game, former Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan praised his former protege.
"I’ll tell you a guy that’s underrated is Jarret Johnson," Ryan said. "I mean he’s had that label forever. We used to laugh about it. He’s always a ‘hard-working, blue-collar guy.’ Well, that’s what he is. He’s tougher than heck, and he’s a lot more talented than people give him credit for. He’s playing great."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times