New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft took the podium at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday to honor fullback Jakob Johnson for crossing the 1,000-snap threshold in his career.
Johnson first joined the Patriots via the NFL’s International Pathway Program and spent training camp in 2019 as a roster-exempt 91st player. At the beginning of his career, his outlook was not promising — something Kraft himself mentioned.
“A couple of years ago I remember a couple of coaches here talking about Jakob, saying, ‘He’s not very good.’ And look where he is today,” he said. “Look what he has done. He’s worked hard. He’s really gotten the respect of everyone. He’s had such progress.”
Johnson impressed during his first training camp and preseason, making the practice squad as a regular — i.e. non-exempt — player before even getting promoted to the active roster. Since last season and following the retirement of James Develin, the 26-year-old is the Patriots’ undisputed fullback.
His career has been nothing short of impressive, and next year could lead him to his native Germany: at the end of his speech, Kraft mentioned that “something very special” would be announced on Wednesday (which, coincidentally, is Johnson’s birthday). With the NFL planning to play a regular season game in Germany in the very near future, the Patriots being among the first participants would not be a surprise.