WFT signs kicker Brian Johnson off Bears practice squad


With kicker Joey Slye's hamstring injury expected to keep him sidelined for at least three weeks, the Washington Football Team is turning to Brian Johnson, who they're signing off the Bears practice squad.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network was first to report the news, which Washington head coach Ron Rivera has  since confirmed.

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Johnson, 22, has some NFL experience since going undrafted in 2021, but not much. After four years at Virginia Tech (2017-2020), he signed with the Bears in May 2021 and was later waived in August but re-signed to Chicago's practice squad. He was signed by the Saints in October and made his NFL debut in Week 7, in which he kicked the go-ahead field goal in a 13-10 victory over the Seahawks on Monday Night Football.

Johnson lasted four games with the Saints before being released on Nov. 19 and signing back with the Bears practice squad the following week. He made every field goal he attempted for New Orleans, going a perfect eight-for-eight, including four field goals from 20 to 29 yards, three from 30 to 39, and one from 50-plus.

Johnson struggled with consistency on extra point attempts, going five-for-eight on PATs (62.5 percent), and was released by the Saints after missing both of his extra point attempts in a Week 10 game against Tennessee, which New Orleans lost by two points.

For a larger sample, Johnson was a 76.1 percent kicker in college, successfully converting 54 of his 71 field goal attempts while remaining perfect (131/131) on extra points. Coincidentally, Johnson and Slye (2014-17) both kicked for Virginia Tech, overlapping for one season in 2017.

Slye has been perfect on field goals for Washington since signing with the team on Nov. 9, converting all six of his attempts with a long of 56 yards in three games. He'd also been a perfect five-for-five on extra points until Monday night's victory over Seattle, when he had an extra point attempt blocked in the second quarter.

Slye was injured on the play, pulling up lame and grabbing his hamstring after pursuing Seattle's Rasheem Green, who'd recovered the blocked kick and returned it to the other end zone for two points. Ron Rivera has said Slye will miss a "minimum of three weeks" with a hamstring injury.

Johnson is Washington's fourth kicker this season. Dustin Hopkins and Chris Blewitt (both released) were the others.

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