George Johnson wasn’t a part of last season’s 2-14 nightmare, but the former Lion already feels a sense of urgency from his new teammates to rid themselves of 2014’s disappointment.
“I see these guys and they don’t want 2-14,” Johnson said. “They want to be better and prove people wrong. You can see how hard they work. I thought I worked hard, but guys (out here), they are working a lot harder than me.”
Johnson got his first taste of practice in the Tampa heat (at least since 2012) during OTAs and mini-camp, however training camp presents a new challenge. Over the next three weeks in the sweltering conditions, the six-year pro is looking forward to seeing his teammates come together and fight through the season’s first test.
“One thing I want to see is just how tough we are, if we can take the heat and practice hard every day,” Johnson said. “During camp we get extremely tired, days are drawn out. But to see how guys are able to keep fighting and building just shows the kind of character they have.
“We actually bond more in camp than we do during the season. This is the time to build the chemistry and foundation.”
After a six sack season in 2014 while playing in a rotational role, Johnson is looking to take the next step in Tampa Bay and become the team’s first double-digit sack man since Simeon Rice in 2005.
Of course, the Bucs also have rising star Jacquies Smith who could beat him to it. Either way, a race to 10 sacks between teammates would be a great scenario for a squad that collected 36 in total last season.
“Just for them to bring me in and believe that I can be that double-digit sack sack guy, it shows they want someone (to start a new trend),” Johnson said. “It’s a challenge for me and the other defensive ends on this team.”
Johnson is expected to start at left defensive end opposite Smith on the right side come Week 1. This is a familiar position for the Rutgers product as he’s spent the majority of his career on the left side in a base 4-3 Cover 2 defense, making this a seamless transition to Tampa Bay.
“I’ve always played in this defense,” Johnson said. “Even in college we played the Tampa 2, and coming into the pros my first couple of years it was Tampa 2. I’m really familiar with it, and coming here makes it even better because I’m playing with great guys around me.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org