Vikings 2011: LT Charlie Johnson

  • Updated: September 9, 2011 - 1:00 AM
Charlie Johnson can live with the pressure that comes with being the guy who had to step into the mountainous void created by the release of left tackle Bryant McKinnie on Day 2 of training camp.

"The fortunate thing is playing for Indianapolis the past five years, we were in a lot of pressure-packed situations," said Johnson, a sixth-round draft pick of the Colts in 2006. "So pressure is not something that's going to be new to me. I don't really feel any pressure at all."

But it's there. Oh, how it's there.

McKinnie had become a Twittering 400-pound punch line by the time he was jettisoned. But that doesn't diminish the fact he also was a durable behemoth who played left tackle competently for nine seasons.

Once the Vikings saw just how out of shape McKinnie had become, they scrambled. With little salary cap room, they signed Johnson for a relatively inexpensive $10.5 million over three years.

Johnson (6-4, 305) is undersized for the position and has struggled with speed rushes. He was unable to consistently block teammates Jared Allen and Everson Griffen in practice, and that has been cause for concern heading into the regular season.

Johnson played on four division champions in his five seasons with the Colts. He has played in two Super Bowls and started in one of them. In the past three seasons, he has started 31 games at left tackle as the Colts have gone 36-12 with two AFC South titles and a trip to the Super Bowl.

There's a popular belief, however, that Johnson's ability to stay in the Colts starting lineup was helped by Peyton Manning's uncanny knack for sensing and avoiding pass rushers.

"I really don't think about where all the eyes will be focused or who's watching me," Johnson said. "I know it sounds funny, but I just have a job to do. I just think about it as, 'Hey, I just have to find a way to keep this guy over here off my quarterback.' "

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