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In The End, Trash-Talking Paris Johnson Jr. Won't Matter

Rookie tackle is too busy analyzing and breathing to worry about chatter

Paris Johnson Jr. enjoys the physicality of his sport and his position. "It's what makes the game fun," he said.

And that, of course, can lead to chatter between heated individuals in the course of a game, and in just two preseason games, the tackle said, yes, he has heard some trash talk from the man with whom he is doing battle. That's fine. Just don't expect a response.

"I don't really talk back," Johnson said. "I've never been a guy who talks back because I'm always thinking about the play call and I'm running through exactly what I did in my head and how could I have done that better, what things I could bring correct the next time and in the next situation.

"For the most part I'm just trying to breathe. I'm 320 pounds, I'm just trying to breathe. I couldn't really care less. I'd rather hit you than sit there and have a whole conversation. That doesn't really add value."

Already, Johnson, despite his NFL inexperience, has worked hard to embrace that he belongs in the league. He should, since he has been in the starting lineup since the first day, and he had it reinforced after getting the few plays against the Broncos in the first preseason game and then again against the Chiefs.

"Against the Broncos it was like, 'Oh, OK it's like that?'" Johnson said. "As long as I do everything right, and I am putting myself in position, I can continue to do this. But obviously in the league if you are not putting yourself in position -- whether you are tired, whether you are lazy, whether you are not focused -- they can take advantage of that just as easily."

That's why Johnson feels he's already walking the fine line between confidence and knowing he isn't a finished product. He said he hasn't really been given any grades as feedback, but that it probably wouldn't matter because he is thinking about the plays that didn't go right.

Hearing him talk, it's easy to see why trash-talk is way down the priority list.

"I want to be flawless," Johnson said, "but I guess the cool thing is 'OK, PJ,' -- that's me talking to myself, I talk to myself a lot -- it's preseason game No. 2.' You're not going to watch film and say, 'Oh yeah another great play.' It's fun to say, 'Man, I had 10 great pass protection plays' but I got caught on this one and I need more attention to detail on that."

Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. (70) during the 2023 preseason game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, Aug 19, 2023 in Glendale, AZ.

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