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Johnson playing ‘sideline-to-sideline’

Dragons linebacker Steven Johnson has 18 tackles through two games this season.

SEATTLE – When Steven Johnson talks to his friends back home in Pennsylvania, they always remind him of one thing: “sideline-to-sideline.”

When the linebacker is on the field, he expects to be involved in every play, each tackle and all opportunities to make something happen.

“I get frustrated when I’m not, so I try to get there,” he said.

And, through two XFL games this season, Johnson is making his presence felt, tallying 18 tackles (11 solo), in addition to four tackles for loss.

“I’m getting there,” he said. “I’m revving up. I’m still knocking a little bit of rust of, but at the same time it’s just great to come out here on days like this and be able to continue to practice and work at it, because every game, I’m trying to be in on every play.”

Each time Johnson steps on the field, he has a goal of 10 tackles. And, if he doesn’t hit the mark, he expects to do more the next game.

“To be honest, I set my goals super high,” he said. “My goal is to always get 10 a game, regardless, but I try to keep myself on par. So, if I get eight one game, the next game, I’ve got to get 12. So, this game, my goal was to get 14.”

While he’s coming up just short of his 10-tackles-per-game goal, he has already established himself as one of the league’s most productive linebackers.

“I’m just always trying to push myself to be the best I can be, to be honest,” he said. “It’s great I’m able to get to the ball and help my team, help the defense, but at the end of the day, I want to be known as a linebacker that is all over the place, non-stop, doesn’t get tired and makes plays. That’s just how I pride myself on playing the position.”

Johnson couldn’t quite point-point where his competitive drives comes from, but he said its, ‘in my blood.”

“I’ve been a linebacker since I was 5 years old,” he said. “When I was in the league, I always prided myself in being that way. I was just a little bit heavier. Now I’ve kind of morphed into a cover linebacker and I’m running and covering. Now I’ve got to get to the ball. It’s just that mentality you’ve got to have, that Mamba Mentality of being everywhere when you need to be there.”

With Johnson setting a tone for the Dragons’ defense, Seattle is establishing itself as one of the toughest in the league, giving up just two offensive touchdowns through two games. And, Johnson believes the team’s defense is only going to get better.

“To be honest, I feel like there are sometimes when our defense won’t allow offenses to cross the 50, even if they get the ball on the 45,” he said. “That’s just a mentality I have and I see that coming along.

“I’m excited our defense is growing and our coaches are doing a phenomenal job of putting us in positions to be able to make plays. We’ve just got to continue to grow, get better and work on our technique.”