When Rashad Johnson played safety for the Cardinals from 2009 through 2015, it was like the team had a coach on the field.
Johnson wasn’t the most athletic player in the world, but he made up for it with his intelligence. So it should come as little surprise that Johnson has taken up coaching in his post-playing days.
Johnson joined the staff at Alabama, his alma mater, in 2018, and one of his main pupils was Deionte Thompson, the Cardinals’ fifth-round draft pick.
On Thursday, Thompson talked about the impact Johnson had on his mental preparation during a breakout junior season.
“He helped me evolve my game last year,” Thompson said. “He was one of the biggest reasons why I was able to play the way I played, at a high level. Sitting down and watching film with him every day before and after practice, when I got in the game, it was easy, because I knew what was coming. I knew how to defend it.”
Alabama’s head coach, Nick Saban, is also a former defensive back who knows the finer points of the position. But when Thompson was asked how Saban helped him, it was less Xs and Os and more fire and brimstone.
“He helped me one way by ripping my ass every day,” Thompson said. “Making sure that I was on top of stuff and making sure I was accountable on that field. If you weren’t accountable, you weren’t going to be out there. He’s a great coach, and he demands excellence.”