Turns out, Richard Sherman has always talked like this. On the field. And off.
Even as a teenager. Especially as a teenager.
So says the newest Seahawk.
Veteran safety Jeron Johnson was a teammate of Seattle’s $56 million, All-Pro cornerback from 2002-05 at Dominguez High School in Compton, California.
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What was Sherman like then?
“A little skinnier. A lot less money,” Johnson said, grinning.
“He’s a competitor. He’s been the same way. He’s always had the mouth — and he backs it up. I respect him.
“He’s never changed.”
Sherman and Johnson began playing on the same team in their freshman year at Dominguez High. Sherman was 5 feet 9 and 125 pounds. He eventually starred at wide receiver, cornerback and as a kickoff and punt returner.
Sherman had 48 catches with 14 touchdowns as a receiver in his senior year, when he wore number 4 and was listed at 170 pounds. Johnson wore number 5 as a middle linebacker and power running back on that Dominguez team, which went 13-1 and won the California Interscholastic Federation southern section championship.
Did Sherman trash-talk Dominguez opponents like he does those of the Seahawks?
“We did a lot of winning there. There wasn’t much they could say,” Johnson said. “We were beatin’ up on ’em. You just got to take it.
“We got in a lot of arguments amongst the team, as players, with Richard, because he’s going to win every argument. And he’s not going to stop until he does.
“He’s the same way, I’m tellin’ you. He’s the same way!”
After they graduated in 2006, Sherman went to Stanford. Johnson played at Boise State for now-Washington Huskies coach Chris Petersen.
Their first reunion in the NFL was in 2011 as rookie defensive backs with the Seahawks. Johnson was a special-team mainstay and backup to Kam Chancellor at strong safety, Earl Thomas at free safety and at cornerback through 2014.
While Sherman became an All-Pro and got a four-year extension with Seattle, Johnson became a free agent after the 2014 season. He signed a $4 million, two-year contract with Washington. He played in 14 games, with one start, last season before Washington released him. Kansas City had him in training camp this summer, but cut him.
So how did he get reunited with Sherman in Seattle for a second time?
Well, Johnson was working out in the months after the Chiefs cut him.
“I’ve been working out at LA Fitness at The Landing,” he said of the entertainment area a couple of miles south of Seahawks headquarters. “Been running at Rainier Beach High School.
“I’ve been just down the street. Waiting for the opportunity.”
That wait ended this past weekend.
On Sunday night, Johnson, 28, was with his daughter and “my girl” at home, just up the street from the Seahawks facility. Their television was tuned to the Seahawks-Panthers game. He immediately went on alert in the second quarter when he saw Chancellor’s knee slam into Thomas’ shin.
“When I saw it I said, ‘That looked kind of bad,’ just from the first replay that they showed,” Johnson said. “(My girlfriend) just looked at me. And it was kind of just silent for like 10, 15 minutes.
“I just kept watching the game. But I knew if it was bad, I would get a call.”
The next day, he did. Thomas has a broken tibia, and the three-time All-Pro free safety is out for the season after starting 118 consecutive games to begin his career.
Johnson came in for a Seahawks tryout on Monday. “It truly felt like home,” he said.
No wonder. It was, after all, just down the street.
He signed on Tuesday. Of course, Sherman was all for it.
“I’ve played with Jeron since ninth grade,” Sherman said, “and I’m happy to have him back in the building.
“You got a lot of memories … good, bad, ugly. You can tell a lot of old jokes that nobody else will get. Our high school has gone through some transitional periods ... so we don’t know any of the coaches now, but we still try to give back and go back and organize some things. It’s really cool.”
Steven Terrell will start for Thomas this weekend at Green Bay, and for the foreseeable future. Coach Pete Carroll said this week that Johnson will fill backup roles at free safety and strong safety, and provide experience.
“It’s really unfortunate what happened to Earl,” Johnson said. “But I am grateful for the opportunity.”
One opportunity he won’t get is winning an argument with Sherman.
“I quit arguing” long ago, Johnson said. “It’s not going to end. It’s not going to end unless you stop.”
GO ARMY, BEAT NAVY
It’s not just a personal statement.
Nike provided such gear to Seahawks players that it sponsors, such as Jermaine Kearse and Russell Wilson, while Army soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord visited practice Thursday.
Carroll invited the soldiers into the team’s huddle at the end of practice. They entered by marching in two lines.
“I think when I speak for myself, I speak for everyone: We appreciate your service and the sacrifices that you and your families make,” Kearse told a captain from the Army’s Second Infantry division.
The officer then broke the team for the locker room with “Go Hawks!”
Army plays Navy in the 119th meeting of the service academies on Saturday in Baltimore.
We won’t mention how many wins in a row Navy has in the series. (It’s more than 13, yet fewer than 15.)
The forecast for Sunday in Green Bay: 28 degrees with a 20 percent chance of snow showers. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who played his final season of college football at Wisconsin, said he hopes for “a downpour of snow.” Snowy football reminds him of days and nights in friends’ backyards during boyhood winters in Richmond, Virginia. … Strongside linebacker Mike Morgan returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice with a hip injury. … Seems likely we’ll find out if running backs coach Sherm Smith’s belief from Wednesday is timely, that new fullback Marcel Reece is ready to play on Sunday — five days after signing and following three months out of football. ... Fullback Will Tukuafu missed another day of practice. He’s still in the league’s concussion protocol. That makes it probable that Reece, the former Washington Husky, will take Tukuafu’s role in Green Bay. … The Seahawks signed running back George Farmer to the practice squad, two days after they waived him from the active roster. ... They released running back Kelvin Taylor from the practice squad. ... Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 15-2 at Lambeau Field in December.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle