Minor soft-tissue injuries nagged Stevie Johnson during his first season in San Diego.
On Sunday, he might have suffered a far more significant setback.
The former University of Kentucky wide receiver injured his right knee shortly after making a diving catch during a 7-on-7 drill. Coach Mike McCoy was unable to offer a detailed update following practice — the results of an MRI were pending — but the team was left to hope for a prognosis more favorable than the injury appeared. Johnson did not put pressure on his right leg when helped off the field.
His non-contact injury came early on training camp’s second day.
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Johnson caught a Philip Rivers pass and quickly popped to his feet. His right knee then twisted while twirling around and looking to run upfield. The 30-year-old slot receiver fell to the ground from the fluke movement, as teammates quickly gathered around him in support.
“I said a prayer for him and told him I had his back,” wide receiver Dontrelle Inman said.
This is Johnson’s ninth NFL training camp.
Upon joining the Chargers last March on a three-year, $10.5 million contract, he endeared himself to teammates with his energy and charisma. On the field, he flashed during the spring and training camp, but groin and hamstring injuries limited him in the regular season. He missed six games, totaling 45 receptions for 497 yards and three scores.
Johnson hoped for better health in year two.
The degree to which Sunday’s injury stymied that is unclear for now.
“That’s a guy we’re for all rooting for,” said cornerback Brandon Flowers, who was in coverage on the play. “He’s a guy who is always positive. He’s always speaking. He attacks practice like a game and makes you better as a player. Before you walk into a meeting, he’s like, ‘Hey, you covered me on this route. How did you know I was going to make that move?’ He’s always trying to get better. He’s not playing the game just trying to get a check. He really wants to put in the work to get us where we want to go this year, and we appreciate that. ...
“I just hope it’s nothing serious.”