Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson is ready to lead the team as the starting quarterback in the absence of starter Josh Freeman. Johnson will start in the final two preseason games and prepare to start Week 1 in case Freeman is not back in time. Johnson said he doesn't view starting in the preseason as different from a regular season game.
"No we because we still have a goal to go out and execute and try and get a win," said Johnson. "Even though it won't be for four quarters, how ever many plays the first offense will play, our job is go out there and keep putting good drives together, and keep progressing to get ready for Cleveland.
"From my standpoint it is about going out there and doing the job the right way. That is no turnovers, moving the chains, and we'll be all right and be in position to win the football game."
The Buccaneers are planning that Freeman will be ready to start against Cleveland in Week 1, but if he's not ready Johnson is preparing for the start.
"There is always that chance in this league, you are always one snap away," said Johnson. "That's the mind set that I've been having. Now it is just playing it by ear, but I'll be ready for Week 1 if called upon. We'll see what happens, but we'll be ready for whatever happens."
Johnson led the Buccaneers to a touchdown in the second quarter of last Saturday's preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Johnson hit wide receiver Micheal Spurlock for a 53-yard touchdown. For the game Johnson completed 6-of-10 passes for 113 yards with one touchdown. It was a bounce back performance from Johnson as he completed 8-of-13 for 72 yards and one interception with two fumbles in the first game at Miami.
Last season the 24-year old Johnson started four games going 0-4. He completed 50.4 percent of his passes for 685 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt feels that Johnson has improved and this preseason Johnson has completed 60 percent of his passes. Van Pelt explained how Johnson has been able to improve his accuracy.
"Understanding the system, understanding what the route concepts are, and the coverage where it dictates the ball to be thrown and all that tying into your feet and having proper foot work," said Van Pelt. "I think that is the biggest thing for a quarterback: accuracy. You are always on your feet, if you are not quite sure of the coverage of the protection, your feet get out of whack and your accuracy goes down. I think that he is comfortable with the system, and he is focused more on his feet and being a accurate passer."
If Freeman is unable to start in Week 1, Johnson feels the results will be better than what transpired during the 2009 season.
"I'm a lot more prepared for it. What happened last year there was a lot more turmoil," said Johnson. "It happened at a different part of time in the season. We were 0-3 with Byron [Leftwich], and the situation wasn't necessarily his fault that he got benched."
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