ORIGINAL STORY: The New England Patriots dropped to just two healthy wide receivers Monday when they cut rookie Chris Harper. That issue reportedly has been fixed.
The Patriots “intend to sign” free-agent wide receiver Damaris Johnson, ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported Tuesday.
Johnson spent the 2014 season as the Houston Texans’ slot receiver, catching 31 passes for 331 yards with one touchdown. He also had five carries for 19 yards, six kick returns for 136 yards and nine punt returns for 54 yards while playing under former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.
Keshawn Martin and Brandon LaFell are the only two healthy Patriots receivers. Johnson was above Martin on the Texans’ depth chart last season.
Johnson was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He has 52 career receptions for 601 yards with one touchdown, eight rushing attempts for 31 yards, 23 kick returns for 577 yards and 47 punt returns for 445 yards and one touchdown.
The Patriots used Harper as a punt returner Sunday night in their 30-24 overtime loss to the Denver Broncos with Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman out. Harper’s muffed punt, which was recovered by the Broncos, shifted the momentum of the Week 12 matchup.
Johnson, who’s 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, could take over punt and kick returns, though Amendola could be back in Week 13 for the Patriots’ matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Johnson ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at his pro day in 2012, with a 6.80-second 3-cone, 4.20-second short shuttle, 9-foot, 5-inch broad jump and 30-inch vertical leap.
Johnson was suspended for his senior season at Tulsa after being charged with felony embezzlement. His girlfriend at the time charged him less than $14 for more than $2,783 worth of merchandise at Macy’s.
Johnson had 188 receptions for 2,746 yards with 17 touchdowns in three seasons with the Golden Hurricane, along with 122 rushing attempts for 1,062 yards and eight scores. He also had 134 kick returns for 3,417 yards and two touchdowns and 47 punt returns for 571 yards with two scores.
Johnson would fill the Patriots’ 53rd roster spot, though they have three openings on their practice squad. The Patriots signed Harper and linebacker Darius Fleming off their practice squad last week, and Harper could return there if he clears waivers. The Dolphins also signed defensive tackle Robert Thomas off the Patriots’ practice squad Tuesday, league sources told the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson.
Thumbnail photo via Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Aug 7, 2015; Richmond, VA, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Damaris Johnson (13) carries the ball during joint practice with the Washington Redskins as part of day eight of training camp at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports