FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Trumaine Johnson’s first season with the Jets went from bad to worse on Sunday, when he watched the finale from the sideline after being a healthy scratch for the Jets’ 38-3 loss to the Patriots.
Coach Todd Bowles declined to say why Johnson was benched, repeatedly saying only that it was a coach’s decision and that he wanted to get a look at younger players.
But the cornerback himself said he was late to practice on Wednesday because he overslept, and that he was informed before Sunday’s pregame warmups that he would not play.
ESPN reported that he did not show up for practice and also that he missed team meetings.
Asked if he felt he had let the team down, Johnson said, “Definitely. First off, I’d like to apologize to my teammates, my coaches, for sure, for not being out there. I never quit on this team. That’s not me. It’s never been me.”
Johnson said it was difficult to watch the Jets get blown out while not being able to help. Safety Jamal Adams praised him for trying to help by coaching less experienced teammates in the secondary during the game.
Johnson’s status is no small matter moving forward, because he is not going anywhere after signing a five-year, $72.5-million contract as a free agent last offseason.
Releasing him would devastate the salary cap, particularly for 2019. So the hope is to keep him healthy and focused.
He had four interceptions this season but missed five games because of a quadriceps injury, gave up some damaging big plays and committed costly penalties.
A questionable pass-interference call against him in overtime was a pivotal moment in last week’s loss to the Packers; it was the call that seemed to most upset Bowles when he ripped the officials after the game. (The NFL fined him $25,000 for doing so.)
Asked how he thought he played this season, Johnson said, “Mediocre, to be honest.” He said he was hampered at times by his injury but acknowledged the way it ended was “a bad look.”
“I can own up to that,” he said, vowing to “come back strong next year.”
Johnson was asked what he would say about not showing up for work given his hefty salary, and he said, “Put that on me. I take that. I take that ‘L.’ ”
Johnson endorsed Bowles’ coaching ability but made it clear he did not necessarily agree with the discipline he received.
“Like I said, I was upset, but I couldn’t do anything about it,” he said. “It was a coach’s decision. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”