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Learning Experience For Rookie WR

Posted Sep 25, 2012

It would be easy for rookie wide receiver Damaris Johnson to focus on the positives of Sunday’s game. After all, he led the team with five catches for 84 yards. He also saw the most action of his young career, playing 88 percent of the offensive snaps. But none of that matters because, in the end, the Eagles didn’t leave the desert undefeated.

"I knew I could make plays," Johnson said after the game. "But at the end of the day it didn’t matter because we didn’t come out with the ‘W.’ I tried to help our team with anything I can do, but we just didn’t get the ‘W’ today."

Unfortunately, one of Johnson’s most impactful plays is one he’d like to forget. Trailing 3-0 in the first quarter, Johnson was returning a punt and got hit by Cardinals fullback Anthony Sherman, who jostled the ball loose. The fumble was recovered by Arizona, and their offense took eight plays to put it in the end zone.

Instead of ripping him for the mistake, his teammates reminded him not to let it affect the rest of his game. And he didn’t, catching four more passes for 64 yards throughout the rest of the game.

"I came to the sideline and those guys told me, ‘Forget that play. Things happen, just move on.’ And I think I just went on the rest of the day just not letting it affect my play on special teams or offense," Johnson said. "It was a big play in the game; it cost us a little bit, but the most important thing is that we didn’t come out with the ‘W’ today."

Despite his up-and-down performance, head coach Andy Reid saw enough promise in the rookie to not only keep him on the active roster, but to give him the punt return job. Now, Reid needs to see Johnson make adjustments in his game.

"He’s a smart kid," Reid said Monday. "We’ve just got to focus in on that to make sure he takes care of business. Field position, we lost that battle (Sunday) along with the turnovers. Those two things, they cost you."

There was little to be excited about Sunday, but Johnson is already eagerly awaiting his next chance to prove himself. And that starts Sunday night when the New York Giants come to town.

"We were 2-0 and we lost (Sunday), so we’ll see how we bounce back next week," Johnson said. "The great thing is that we have another week to play just to prove ourselves."

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