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October 29, 2012 @ 4:40 pm
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Johnson Impresses Schiano; Ready To Contribute At Oakland

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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With the Buccaneers facing the distinct possibility of traveling to Oakland without their two top cornerbacks, free agent Leonard Johnson most likely will be counted on to help fill the void. The Clearwater native played well in last Thursday's 36-17 win at Minnesota and is earning the trust of his coaches and teammates.
When the Buccaneers take the field in Oakland on Sunday with a chance to even their record to 4-4, they most likely will do so without the services of cornerback Eric Wright.

The free agent corner back is possibly facing a four-game suspension by the NFL for testing positive for Adderall, and even if the Jay Glazer report fails to be valid, Wright is also trying to recover from a mild Achilles injury suffered last Thursday night in Minnesota.

As former Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris used to say often – next man up. And that “next man up” could be rookie free agent cornerback Leonard Johnson who saw extensive playing time in Thursday’s 36-17 win over the Vikings.

Monday, during the open locker room period at One Buc Place, Johnson was the man in the media spotlight, and talked about his opportunity on the national stage Thursday night.

I just went out and tried to have fun and do everything I was asked to do,” Johnson said. “The fact I was able to start in nickel and dime (coverages) was something I looked forward to doing all week. I didn’t want to put too much thought into it or pressure on myself about going out there with the first team. I just wanted to hang out and let all be natural.
“That’s the kind of approach I take when opportunities like that present itself. All week I was just telling myself – I do a lot of self-talking – that the bigger the stage, the bigger I perform. I told myself that all week knowing that if I just took care of things in practice I’d feel confident and then I’d be able to go out and perform. I always visualize having big games. I didn’t’ actually visualize that (the interception), but I just knew something big would happen.”

Head coach Greg Schiano talked about Johnson and his play last Thursday night.

“I think he competed,” Schiano said. “The stage doesn’t get a lot bigger in the season than on national television game against a team that is doing well offensively. It wasn’t too big for him. I guess that’s the best thing. He competed and made some plays. He had an interception. That other one … take a look at it. It is up for discussion too.

“So two really big time plays and then other ones that go unnoticed; the ones that he does his job. At cornerback position we have talked about many times you do your job the whole night and no one notices. It is only when you are involved in the ball. You the receiver and the ball is where you earn your keep. I thought he did well in those competitive situations.”
Gerald McCoy also noticed the play of his rookie teammate.

He came in and ended the game for us with an interception,” McCoy said on Monday. “He played well. That other play, it looked like an interception. But he stepped in and played well. We have a next man up mentality and that’s just how it has to be. You never know what can happen. On any given day, anything can happen, the next man has to be ready.”

Johnson, a Clearwater native, went undrafted in last April’s NFL draft after being rated highly on many mock draft boards early in his senior season. But a disappointing 40-time and a lack of ideal size (5-foot-10, 196) mostly likely hurt his stock.

At first Johnson was bitter and angry but told the media those thoughts have now passed.

“I don’t think about that anymore,” Johnson said. “The draft, all those hard feeling, I let all that stuff go once I made the team. After that I was like, I’m here. I don’t have to carry a chip on my shoulder anymore. Now it’s just time for me to go and have fun and get back to the basics.”
With Wright’s availability up in the air, Johnson knows he won’t have much time to relish in his success against the Vikings.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Johnson said. “The whole Eric Wright situation will handle itself, the Achilles or whatever else it is that’s going on. Right now I’m just trying to focus on getting better and doing the things I can do to be prepared if anything was to happen. That way I’m not shocked when the time comes.”


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  • avatar

    Another Gem was found this year go bucs GLH
  • avatar

    Carl Nicks done for the year......yikes!
  • avatar

    any buccs fans going to the raider game? planning to go with buccs gear anyone else? first game ever from los angeles buccs fan since 98 go buccs....... with the way carson palmers been playing just take away the run and put pressure on his face and wont have to worry what corner is in there! getem buccs!
  • avatar

    @westsidekidx: Your plan for handling the Raiders is right on. Proud to have you as Buc booster. You got a lot of guts wearing Buc gear in Raider nation...more power to you. Here's hoping the Bucs win so you won't be abused after. Fly your Buc colors high bud!
  • avatar

    I thought he played very well Thursday. I guess he will have to step in a play again so maybe this is his chance to make an impression and earn a spot. Works for me. I guess MacDonald will also be in??????? if so we have a problem Houston.....not been impressed yet with that young man. Fortunately we have Carson Palmer this week. Unless he has changed he is a likely to throw it to us as his own guys. If we can get a strong showing and a WIN this week we may have so momentum and I think we can make a run. If we can stay consistant until the ATL game they will be due to loose and maybe we can help them out. GO BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • avatar

    Coach seems to have a smidgen of confidence in Johnson. I guess he didn't notice that the youngster from Largo High made the Pewter Report Most Disappointed List.
  • avatar

    From the movie Jeremiah Johnson.(the bear story) But if Leonard can tackle we may have a winner.
  • avatar

    It’s just like Wright to leave Johnson to handle all the responsibility in a tough game! Wright and Johnson went bear hunting. Wright left the cabin and told Johnson that he was going to get a bear. Johnson reminded him that he didn’t have a gun when Wright quickly responded that he didn’t need a gun. After 20 minutes Wright returned in a dead out run yelling for Johnson to open the door. When Johnson opened the door in ran Wright followed by an 800lb grizzly bear. Wright slammed the door and jumped out of the window from which he turned and abruptly responded – “Leonard you skin that one, I’m going back to get another one”! That Wright guy can really be counted on in a pinch!!
  • avatar

    Hope he does well, he can't be any worse than Biggers.
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