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Dontae Johnson Details Benefit of Covering Torrey Smith in Training Camp

Dontae Johnson was one of several 2014 draft picks who were called upon last year to step up in place of injured veterans.

The fourth-round pick out of North Carolina State ran with the opportunity, tallying 34 tackles and six pass deflections in his rookie campaign. 

Johnson's best moment came on "Monday Night Football" against the St. Louis Rams, when he recorded a game-clinching pick-six for his first career interception.

In 2015, Johnson is striving to be a key contributor in a group of talented cornerbacks. Throughout training camp, he has lined up with the first-team defense in its nickel package.

Johnson took to the podium on Tuesday morning, and here are the highlights from the question-and-answer session.


Check out some of the best photos from day 11 of 49ers training camp.

Question:** How are you approaching this year, your second season in the NFL?

Johnson:I'm coming in every day with my hard hat on ready to work. The main thing is understanding the concepts and schemes of the new defense. I'm just taking what I learned last year and putting it toward this year. 

Question: Does Eric Mangini's defense and the way he blitzes impact your job as a corner?

Johnson: I guess you could say we're playing more aggressive. Coach is putting us in better positions to make plays and play at a high level. It highlights our strengths. ... With more blitzes, the ball has to come out quick. The quarterback can't hold the ball as long as he wants to. He has to diagnose a lot of things and read coverages a lot faster.

Question: What have you seen from NaVorro Bowman out there on the practice fields?

Johnson: The energy he brings is great. He's so eager to be out there. He's probably one of the happiest players to put on the pads and helmet and be out there for us. It's exciting for him, it's exciting for this team and exciting for this organization for him to be back in football doing what he loves.


Question:** What is your mindset heading into the first preseason game of the year?

Johnson: The same as it's always been. It's the standard here in San Francisco: play hard, play aggressive, play with class and just continue to build and do what we do. We want to go against somebody else than our teammates. We want to evaluate ourselves against different competition and go from there. 

Question: What can you learn from covering a receiver like Torrey Smith in practice?

Johnson: You learn a lot. Every receiver is not the same. Different receivers have different strengths. Torrey is one of those who takes the top off the defense. He's a burner, so you have to learn how to cope with that. You have to learn how to change your technique to different styles of play in case you do come across that throughout the season. It definitely helps us as a defense. 

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