MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -Rashad Johnson would rather be a dog than a cat.
The All-American safety from Alabama didn't hesitate to fill in that answer on an NFL team's questionnaire at the Senior Bowl, even though the question threw many players for a loop. He even readily supplies a detailed explanation for his choice.
``A dog is man's best friend, but when his territory's threatened, he's ready to fight,'' Johnson said. ``I guess that's how you've got to be as a football player. You can be a friendly guy off the field, but once you get inside these lines it's time to scrap for what's yours.''
Spoken like a cerebral, scrappy football player. Johnson is hoping those attributes will help the former Crimson Tide walk-on forge an NFL career that even he wouldn't have predicted coming out of little Sulligent (Ala.) High School.
st two seasons, racking up 183 tackles and 11 interceptions.
Johnson was responsible for making many of the on-field calls and adjustments for the Alabama defense, and he's hoping NFL teams will regard his brains as an asset, along with his playmaking ability.
``That's an advantage to me,'' said Johnson, who plans to get a law degree eventually. ``When I go in and a playbook is thrown at me with the rest of the rookie guys that are there, I have the most confidence in the world that I'm going to be the first guy that picks up on it and knows what's going on on the field.''
At 6 feet, 195 pounds, Johnson said some NFL teams have expressed concern about his size.
They wonder, he said, ``Can he withstand the blows from the other guys?''
``With these big guys out here, thumping around with them, that only just adds to the positives that I've got going for me,'' Johnson said.
He has already started to bulk up. He was listed at 186 pounds when he helped the Tide go 12-0 in the regular season and earn second-team All-America honors.
Johnson is on the South team with three of his former college teammates, quarterback John Parker Wilson, center Antoine Caldwell and tight end Travis McCall. Some mock NFL drafts project him being selected as high as late in the first round.
Johnson said he didn't have any notion he could wind up in such a position when he was a high school player mostly ignored by college recruiters. He wound up playing 50 games during his career, working his way up from the scout team and special teams to captain.
``Coming out, I didn't get offered from any schools or anything, so it definitely wasn't a thought or anything that I'd play in the NFL,'' Johnson said. ``It was just a dream that I had. Once I got to the university and I started playing a lot and my role started getting bigger and I started having people watch me, then it became a goal.''
The biggest game of Johnson's career came against LSU, when he had three interceptions. He returned one 54 yards for a score and then had the pick in the end zone in overtime that helped Alabama escape with a 27-21 victory.
Fans still bring it up.
``There was a lot of Alabama fans at practice (Monday) and after practice, just kids coming up to me, 'I remember your LSU interception, your three-interception game and you're the best,''' Johnson said. ``That'll definitely be a signature game for me and a game that I'll never forget.''

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