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Receiver Derrick Johnson, a Holy Trinity grad, signs with Giants

New York Giants wide receiver Derrick Johnson #18

New York Giants wide receiver Derrick Johnson #18 adjusts his jersey during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. Credit: Brad Penner

It was far from a typical Saturday night for Derrick Johnson.

The Holy Trinity High School product and Brooklyn native was finishing up a workout at about 4:30 p.m. when he got a call from the Giants to see if he'd be interested in signing as a wide receiver. Well, duh! A few hours later, a Cadillac pulled up in front of his home to drive him across the city and to New Jersey, where he checked into the team's training camp hotel.

"It was very convenient," he said of his proximity to the team. "My mom was really excited for me, especially when they sent the car. She was really excited. I guess that's when it hit her."

Johnson signed his contract with the Giants on Sunday morning and was on the field for practice in the afternoon.

It wasn't the first time he has worn a Giants helmet. He tried out at the team's rookie minicamp in the spring but left without a contract.

On Saturday, the Giants waived two of the players from that minicamp who had suffered injuries on the first day of this full training camp, tight end Matt LaCosse and defensive end Brad Harrah. That opened roster spots for defensive end Brad Bars and Johnson, who got a jump on learning the offense in the spring.

"I understood a lot of it during the minicamp," he said. "They kind of run the same offense we ran at Maine, so I picked up a lot of it. There's a little bit different terminology. Over the course of a couple of months, I kind of forgot a little bit of it, but just being in the meetings now, I'm starting to recall it."

Johnson signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Maine in the spring of 2014, then injured his knee in OTAs. The Patriots waived him and then brought him back for training camp, but he was one of the cuts when the roster went to 53 players. He also was on the Bucs' practice squad briefly during the 2014 season but dislocated a finger.

Now he's back in the league, and still close enough to consider himself being home.

"That's the biggest thing now is to be here in New York and close to my family and to play for my home state," he said. "It's an amazing opportunity. I want to make the most of it."

He won't have any family or friends at the training camp practices, which are open to the public, at least not at first. He said he wants to concentrate on football and not the fans.

Some may wonder why the Giants would sign another receiver when their roster seems pretty crowded at the position. But with Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz being managed carefully this summer and unlikely to take many snaps in the preseason games, and with the Giants likely to use plenty of three- and four-receiver sets in those games, they'll need bodies to run the routes.

"That's usually what happens," Johnson said. "They don't play many reps, they save them for the season, so it provides more opportunity for the lower guys on the depth chart like myself."

Johnson said he isn't worried about that depth chart, though, nor the star-heavy top of the wide receiver pecking order.

"I think it's great," he said. "The competition in camp is going to push all of us, I think. Just compete out there and give it our all every day."

And hope to delay what could be a very disappointing ride back to Brooklyn. The Giants pick up players in Cadillacs; they don't send them home that way.

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