Celtics' Johnson stays patient, waits for opportunity

641850.jpg

Celtics' Johnson stays patient, waits for opportunity

INDIANAPOLIS JaJuan Johnson received plenty of advice from folks in preparation for his first NBA season.

None of the conversations centered around the need for patience, something Johnson is learning he'll need plenty of this season.

"People say my time will come," Johnson, who is from Indianapolis and played at nearby Purdue, told CSNNE.com. "I know it will. When it happens, I'll be ready."

Johnson's time to shine may be tonight as the Boston Celtics try to snap a three-game losing skid against the Indiana Pacers.

Boston's Kevin Garnett had a noticeable limp following Friday's loss to Chicago. It is unclear if Garnett will play tonight. Even if he does, his minutes may be even more limited than they already are currently.

The C's will surely be looking for some kind of spark off the bench. For Johnson, it would be a fitting time and place for that to happen.

With hundreds of family and friends in the stands, Johnson would love nothing more than to get an opportunity to play decent minutes in front of so many of the people who supported him at Purdue.

Most of Johnson's days are spent on the scout team, well aware that his chances of playing most nights aren't very good.

"Obviously, I'd like to play more," he said. "But it's definitely valuable stuff I probably couldn't get on another team, just from playing behind KG (Kevin Garnett) and learning from a point guard like (Rajon) Rondo. Those are the kind of things, you really can't get from a lot of teams. I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn from those guys and other veterans."

And while patience may not have been a topic of discussion prior to entering the NBA, Johnson says this isn't the first time he has started a season buried on the depth chart.

"It reminds me a lot of my freshman year of college," Johnson said.

There were a couple players ahead of him on the depth chart, so he didn't play a lot of minutes at first.

The following year? - First team, All-Big 10.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been impressed with Johnson's work ethic, which is essential for a young player who isn't playing much early in their career. As long as Johnson continues to work at becoming a better player, the Celtics coaching staff will continue pushing him to reach his full potential as a player.

"We're patient with young guys, as long as young guys want to be taught," Rivers said. "It took me about a year of coaching to realize potential with character turns out to be good player. Potential with no character turns out to be the guy that keeps being traded. You get impatient with that, where you try to get a guy to be a better player, and they can't get out of themselves; they're so much into themselves, they're unteachable."

That doesn't appear to be an issue with Johnson, who has been taken under the wing of Kevin Garnett.

"Not playing does nothing but motivate me," Johnson said. "I just want to get better and learn as much as I can. I'm not satisfied by many means in not playing. I just work even harder. That's my mentality. That's how it's always been."

Jamie Collins says he'll play quarterback for Patriots if they need him

patriots-collins-092316.jpg

Jamie Collins says he'll play quarterback for Patriots if they need him

FOXBORO -- It's looking more and more like the Patriots will have options at quarterback Sunday against the Bills. Both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett threw at practice on Wednesday, and it appears that at least one of them, if not both, will be available for the final game of Tom Brady's suspension. 

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman is the likely candidate to jump behind center should the team run into an emergency, but on Wednesday another player threw his hat into the ring. 

"Yeah, I'll play," said linebacker Jamie Collins. "Whatever it is. I don't care what the level is. I don't care what the level is. Whatever it is they need me to do, I'm doing it."

That would be some kind of show.

At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, and with remarkable closing speed, Collins would be an intimidating run-first signal-caller. He's listed at two inches shorter and five pounds heavier than Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, and his NFL Scouting Combine 40-yard dash time was only 0.05 seconds slower than Newton's. 

Just to take this pie-in-the-sky idea even further, Collins can throw, too. Or he could at one point in time. He played quarterback at Franklin County High in Meadville, Miss. before heading off to Southern Mississippi to play all over the Golden Eagles defense. As a high school senior, he cracked 1,000 yards both on the ground and through the air.

Asked if he saw himself back then as a future star in the NFL as a passer, Collins shook his head.

"Nah," he said. "I ain't even see myself as a quarterback in the NFL."

The Patriots would be just fine with Collins sticking at linebacker. He had one of the best games of his career against the Texans last week, racking up 14 tackles and picking off Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler. He also made the calls in the middle of the defense, which is a job that typically falls to Dont'a Hightower, but Collins took over with Hightower out with a knee injury.

"Jamie Collins, he's a beast, man," said safety Duron Harmon after the game. "I tell you what, I've seen a lot of football players play, and he's definitely one of my favorite players to just watch. You just get caught up sometimes seeing all the amazing stuff he does on the field, you just sit in awe. I'm so happy he's on my team, I'll tell you that."

And the team is happy he's at linebacker. But imagine him at quarterback?