FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson, the high-priced free agent whose disappointing season hit bottom last week with a costly penalty in an overtime loss, was benched for practice Wednesday due to an apparent disciplinary matter.
Coach Todd Bowles refused to give details, calling it “an in-house matter that we’re dealing with.” He declined to say whether it was related to discipline, although he made it clear it wasn’t an excused absence. Johnson was likely also fined.
Bowles was noncommittal on Johnson’s status for Sunday against the New England Patriots.
“We’ll see,” the coach said.
Johnson, who was at the facility, told reporters he expects to practice Thursday and play in the season finale. Beyond that, he said nothing about the reason for his absence.
“Me and the head man talked about it,” he said. “That’s between us.”
Asked if it was a disciplinary violation, Johnson repeated, “Me and the head man talked about it. That’s between us.”
In need of a No. 1 cornerback, the Jets signed Johnson to a five-year, $72.5 million contract last offseason, including the third-largest guarantee in team history ($34 million). He leads the Jets with four interceptions even though he missed five games with a quadriceps injury, but his pass coverage has been spotty.
His 33-yard, pass-interference penalty last week set up the Green Bay Packers‘ game-winning touchdown in overtime — one of 16 penalties for 172 yards by the Jets. After the game, Johnson bolted the locker room, refusing to speak with reporters.
On Wednesday, Johnson apologized for not speaking to the media. As for the penalty, he said, “They called it. It hurt us. It is what it is.”
Bowles didn’t like the call and lashed out at the officials after the game for their performance in general, admitting he expects to get fined for the criticism. As of Wednesday, he hadn’t heard from the league, he said.
Johnson also hurt the team with a facemask penalty in a late-game meltdown against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 2, contributing to a 26-22 loss.
“It’s been up and down,” Bowles said of Johnson’s season. “He’s had some good plays, he’s had some plays he’d like to have back.” He added that Johnson has “a good attitude. There’s nothing wrong with his attitude.”