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Jaguars rookie Collin Johnson continues to impress during latter part of the season

Through rookie growing pains, an opportunity presented itself for Collin Johnson and he’s taking full advantage.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The emergence of Jacksonville Jaguars rookie receiver Collin Johnson has been one of the bright spots of a terrible 1-11 season for Jacksonville.

“I think what happened was early on in training camp, we saw him making a bunch of plays, kind of like what you’re seeing right now, and doing a really good job,” said head coach Doug Marrone on Wednesday when asked about Johnson’s impact over the past two games.

“Then when we went out there and [with] the opportunities that he had, [he] just really didn’t take advantage of it.”

Over the past two games, Johnson has showcased the talents he brought to the table as one of Texas’ most prolific receivers over the past four years, bringing some of the skills he showed during training camp over to real games, finally.

Catching eight passes for 162 yards and a touchdown, the fifth-round pick has seemingly turned the corner, something that takes some time for rookie receivers making the leap from college football to the NFL.

“It’s a little different. I think we can all appreciate how different it is from college and practice and then all of sudden now you’re in an NFL game because things are going to happen a lot quicker. Collin’s a very bright guy, so I think he might have been thinking too much.

Marrone says he and the rookie receiver had conversations about overthinking, allowing anxiety to take over in an effort to not make the same mistake. Essentially, Johnson simply needed to “let it loose” and play just as he practiced. It appears to have been working, at least over the past two weeks of the season.

“Just in the games early on he didn’t seem like the same type of player that we were seeing in practice on the game field. But now I think we’re starting to see that, or you’re starting to see that, so now he’s starting to make those plays and he’s doing a really good job.”

For Johnson, his continued improvement comes from the place of self-growth, wanting to get better each and every day.

“I definitely think the more I play, the more comfortable I get,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “I think what he meant by that was I do it in practice and finally I’m seizing the moment in the game now. So, I’m just happy it’s finally showing and I’m just excited to keep getting more comfortable and building off of it and pushing myself each and every week.”

Over the course of the season Johnson has been tasked with playing multiple positions, including those that second-round rookie Laviska Shenault and veteran Chris Conley currently hold. Johnson out-snapped Conley on Sunday 39-8, illustrating that he’s already taking over as one of the team’s starting receivers on game day.

The repetitions Johnson has received, and will continue to receive, are valuable, the receiver said, giving him more opportunities to grow.

“I’m a competitive guy. I just want to be out there as much as possible to help my team and stuff like that,” he said. “I definitely feel like I can get in a rhythm playing more snaps and I love it and I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity that I get.”

After posting a staggering 188 receptions for 2,624 yards and 15 touchdowns in 32 games during his college career, Johnson’s potential has yet to be seen in the NFL, and he feels there’s plenty of room to grow.

“I always feel like I can always get better,” said Johnson. “My mindset’s I just want to be better than yesterday and I just take it day by day. I know that sounds cliché, but I really just try to push myself in that regard.

“The game’s slowing down for me. I feel like I fully understand the offense, multiple positions, so I’m just taking it week by week and just trying to improve each and every week.”