MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports­­

Former Fort Hill High and University of Maryland great Ty Johnson signed a one-year contract on Monday with the Buffalo Bills

The sixth-round pick in 2019, Johnson had re-signed with the New York Jets in March, of course, after playing in all 17 games the previous season, but tore his pectoral muscle while training away from the team and was released shortly thereafter on April 26 with “a non-football injury” designation.

The release came one day after Ty had undergone the surgery the Jets doctors told him to have, but that Ty did not want to have (I haven’t trusted the Jets since Super Bowl III). The average time missed after a pectoralis major tendon repair is four to six months, but Ty made it back in the under-4 and has been medically cleared to resume football, which, certainly, comes as no surprise to anyone who’s ever been around him.

“I’ve had some dark, dark days, man,” he said shortly after the release. “Told them (about the injury). I told them even before this, I was like, ‘Hey, was working out, (the torn pec) happened’ — saw the team doctor, he was like, ‘Hey, you need to get it fixed.’ Flew out the next day (to get surgery). Came back happy that I got it done, even though I didn’t want to get it done. That following Wednesday, you’re outta there!”

The Jets had signed Ty off waivers in 2020 from the Detroit Lions, who drafted him, and he recorded 145 rushes for 652 yards and four touchdowns in two-plus seasons with the team. He also caught 62 passes for 559 yards and another three touchdowns out of the backfield.

Johnson played 42% of special teams snaps last season and 16 percent of offensive snaps, rushing for 160 yards (5.3 per carry) with a touchdown and catching 12 passes for 88 yards. His most productive season came in 2021 when he played 40% of the offensive snaps and got three starts in 16 total games played, catching 34 passes for 372 yards with two touchdowns in 16 games. He also rushed for 238 yards with two TDs.

Ty’s pass-catching ability, his burst out of the backfield and downfield, as well as his ability to play and excel on special teams all have Buffalo’s interest, particularly after third-down running back Nyheim Hines tore the ACL in his left knee following a jet ski accident during the summer.

Ty worked out for the team on Monday and was extended a contract. He is likely to see plenty of snaps on Saturday when the Bills close the preseason against the Chicago Bears.

For his career, Johnson has caught 86 passes for 668 yards and three touchdowns, while tacking on 925 yards rushing on a 4.4 yards per carry average.

Ty, of course, had a great career at Maryland, finishing his career with over 4,000 total yards, which is something only three other players have done in College Park — Torrey Smith, LaMont Jordan and, hopefully, his new teammate for seasons to come, Stefon Diggs.

That Ty Johnson is even back in the picture this soon, when most of the experts believed he would not even be working out full-speed for at least another month, is telling in itself. Then again, there were experts around here who said he’d “never play a down” at the University of Maryland, which, by putting that out there, does nothing other than to play into Ty Johnson’s hands.

For those of us who have seen him from the beginning, nothing Ty Johnson achieves surprises. If you tell him he won’t be able to do one thing, he’ll do it, and add at least one more just to make it clear he’s the one who decides what he can, will and won’t do.

Who’s to say how this will turn out, but if it’s solely on the shoulders of Ty Johnson to determine how it turns out, as I’ve been saying since he was a sophomore in high school, I wouldn’t bet against him.

I never have. And I’ve always won.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT