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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Former Ute pays team a visit at practice

Former Utah safety Robert Johnson took time out during his bye week with the Tennessee Titans to pay the Utes a visit on Tuesday.

Johnson, who played for the Utes from 2007-09 and was a fifth-round draft choice in 2010, spoke at length to the team after practice.

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"I haven't seen the team in a while since they've been in the Pac-12 and I appreciate everything they're doing," he said. "The season is a little bit rough but it's not over."

Johnson follows the Utes as much as he can and reminded the team he wasn't the only one doing so.

"Everybody is watching, everybody is part of the Utah team, everybody who was here in the past are watching and supporting and we need them to play as good as we were playing," he said. "They have the talent, they have the players and same coaching staff so they just have to go out there and perform."

Johnson, who was known for his easy-going attitude as much as his athleticism that helped him haul down 13 interceptions in his career, said he told the team to have fun even as it tries to reach bowl eligibility.

"The best way to have fun is to go bowling," he said. "You have two games left so get out there and just have fun."

Johnson said playing in the NFL was 'lovely.'

"I'm getting adjusted to it being a business but it's fun," he said. "I miss being here but it's fun."

Senior receiver DeVonte Christopher, who has dropped off the depth chart after leading the Utes in receiving the last two seasons, took some reps with the defense Tuesday.

Christopher, who has had just one catch in the last four games, has offered to play on defense just so he could get into games. He might get his shot Saturday.

"He has a lot of athletic ability and we are a little thin in the back end and have been all year and maybe we should have taken a look at that sooner," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "But for a game like this one where it's all spread, four wides, you need a lot of secondary guys so we will see if he can help us back there."

- Lya Wodraska



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