This Friday, the 6-1 New Jersey Generals will have one of their top playmakers back against the 1-6 Pittsburgh Maulers. QB DeAndre Johnson returns to the lineup after missing Week 7 due to an ankle injury.
New Jersey Generals Get DeAndre Johnson Back
DeAndre Johnson has been one of the most dynamic players in the USFL this season. The 26-year-old Florida native has been a vital component of the New Jersey Generals’ league-leading rushing attack. Johnson has rushed for 276 yards and four touchdowns this season. He has also thrown for 600 yards in three starts, adding two scores through the air while completing 71.9 percent of his passes. Both Johnson and the player he has been sharing quarterback duties with this season, Luis Perez (71.3%), have formed an extremely efficient duo.
Before his injury occurred, DeAndre Johnson had taken over the starting role with New Jersey. However, because of his absence, Luis Perez’s success, and the team’s current status, with a playoff spot locked up. Johnson’s role in the new few weeks might not be the same.
DeAndre Johnson’s 4.3 speed has been a valuable asset to the Generals’ RPO-based rushing attack. But as is often the case with mobile quarterbacks who assume a significant portion of running responsibilities. There’s always a chance of injury and re-injury during the course of a season.
It remains to be seen what role Johnson will play in Friday’s game with the Maulers. New Jersey has clinched a playoff berth. And with three weeks left to play in the regular season. Besides, winning the Northern Division, which could come as early as this weekend, if NJ wins and Philadelphia loses. The Generals don’t have much at stake down the stretch. A division crown in the North won’t net them a home playoff game in the USFL’s neutral site setting in Canton, Ohio.
So that begs several questions: Will DeAndre Johnson go back to his starting role as the team’s signal-caller? Or Should the Generals tread carefully and play Johnson sparingly? Especially considering how well Luis Perez has played in Johnson’s absence.
Generals head coach Mike Riley might have to decide if he wants to proceed with caution and protect one of the team’s best offensive weapons, for when the games will matter most now in the playoffs.
A week ago, the Generals signed Kyle Lauleta off waivers from the Maulers as insurance. And the week before, New Jersey added Guy Myers to their QB room. Myers has since been released, and Lauletta has been moved to the team’s inactive list to make room for Johnson.
It’s quite possible, especially knowing Mike Riley’s reputation as a player’s friendly coach, that Johnson has been activated onto New Jersey’s Generals’ main roster to reward him financially. It’s no secret that USFL players make more money per game if they are active ($4,500 per game). Not counting win bonuses, then players on the inactive/practice squad list ($1,500).
Make no mistake, DeAndre Johnson wouldn’t be dressing if he wasn’t healthy. And it would be difficult to keep him off the field when he is available. But part of the motivation for activating him might be to reward him for his performance on and off the field. The gesture would fall in line with how highly regarded Mike Riley is as a person.
New Jersey Generals Week 8 Roster Update
By now, followers of the USFL have become accustomed to the 3 to 5 am news drops by league teams during game week.
The Generals released theirs on Thursday morning at 5:11 am. Besides DeAndre Johnson’s return, the most noteworthy roster update is the number of injuries New Jersey has on their offensive line heading to Friday night’s clash with the Maulers.
League standout OT Calvin Ashley and versatile swing linemen Robert Myers will miss the Pittsburgh game. The good news is that Terry Poole will return to the lineup.
Many of the Generals’ best players, who have their fair share of nicks and bruises, are scheduled to suit up in Week 8. RB Darius Victor, WR KaVontae Turpin, LB Chris Orr, S Shalom Luani, and DB Devante Bausby are all systems go.
Week 8 could be the last time that key players on the injury report give it a go and play despite nursing injuries. If things go as they have the previous six weeks, the Generals will win their seventh straight contest. And could potentially be resting starters in their final two weeks of play in the regular season.