The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are firmly behind starting quarterback Josh Johnson, and with his teammates behind him Johnson is taking on more of a leadership role. Johnson's teammates voiced that they view him as a leader, and see him developing more of a command presence as he gets more experience and confidence.
"We definitely have confidence in him going out there and making plays," said wide receiver Antonio Bryant. "The thing Josh has to be aware of is how he handles himself when things aren't going his way, when he's not making the right reads or when he's making the mistakes. He's going to have to be that same leader. It's great for him to take those steps and make those strides as a leader."
Johnson has appeared in three games this season starting the last two at Washington and Philadelphia. For the year he has completed 52.4 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and four interceptions. He has run the ball 13 times for 96 yards (7.4 average). Johnson received a lot of praise from his performance against the Eagles where he threw for 240 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. The Eagles blitzed Johnson heavily, and he received compliments for his poise and control of the huddle during the game.
"I wasn't surprised," said Bryant. "I'm always telling him, ‘Take over your huddle. Step up and take control of it.' I tell him, ‘It's your show, but it's your job to lose at the end of the day.'"
During the game, Johnson was seen shouting at and firing up his teammates on the sideline. The normally calm and mild-mannered Johnson said he would take on more of a leadership role as the starting quarterback.
"As a quarterback you feel like you have to do that," Johnson said. "Naturally that is the role of being a quarterback on the team. You have to be a leader on the team. You are in control, especially on Sundays, you are in control of everything because the coaches are on the sideline. In practice coaches are right there behind you, but on Sundays it is the quarterback who is leading the offense and in control of everything. I think it is mandated that you have to be in a leadership role in that position."
Buccaneers veteran right tackle Jeremy Trueblood has been in the huddle with veteran quarterbacks and young quarterbacks. Trueblood has played with: Jeff Garcia, Bruce Gradkowski, Brian Griese, Byron Leftwich, and Luke McCown. Now with Johnson, Trueblood sees the leadership skills of a veteran quarterback.
"I said that from day one, even before he got in the game I said that," said Trueblood. "He's played like a veteran even in his first game. It is getting better. I don't know how it could get much better, but obviously you get more comfortable with a guy the more you spend time with him."
Johnson makes his first start at home for Tampa Bay on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. His offensive coordinator Greg Olson discussed Johnson as a leader, and said there are things Johnson could get better at.
"I think when he is on the field there has got to be no question of who is in charge," said Olson. "There should be no question when people look out onto the field, and when you are in the huddle on the field, that there is nobody questioning who is in charge on the field. You have to set the protections. You got to get us out of bad plays. You don't necessarily have to get us in great plays, but you have to make sure we are not running bad plays. Get us in a protection we can handle, if we got to re-slide the line. You got to re-point a defensive player we have to get to, get that handled at the line of scrimmage. It is something you have often times with a veteran quarterback but here is a guy we are trying to bring up to speed. Again the loss of Jeff Faine, [Johnson] had to handle that role. He did a good job last week with it in my opinion. There were still some communication breakdowns that he can get better at."
BUCS THINK BLACK OUT WILL BE AVOIDED With the 0-5 Buccaneers hosting the 1-3 Carolina Panthers, some have wondered if the game is going to be blacked out in the Tampa Bay area. The Bucs believe that a black out will be avoided.
"We don't anticipate the game being blacked out," said public relations director Jeffrey Kamis. BUCS INJURIES AND PRACTICE PARTICIPATION On Wednesday the Buccaneers had two players not participating in practice: fullback B.J. Askew (back/neck) and tight end Jerramy Stevens (quad). Limited participation were wide receiver Antonio Bryant (knee), left tackle Donald Penn (ankle), and defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson (knee). Two players who had been out for some time returned to practice on Wednesday, center Jeff Faine (triceps) and defensive end Kyle Moore (knee) both had full participation in the session. Running back Earnest Graham (hamstring) and running back Clifton Smith (ankle) had full participation.
The Carolina Panthers had running back Jonathan Stewart (achilles) out of practice. Limited in practice were the following players: linebacker Jon Beason (knee), linebacker James Anderson (concussion), linebacker Na'il Diggs (rib), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (toe), and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (shoulder). BAKHTIARI SIGNED TO PRACTICE SQUAD The Bucs signed linebacker Eric Bakhtiari to their eight-man practice squad Wednesday. Bakhtiari played with Bucs quarterback Josh Johnson at the University of San Diego. He had 20 sacks in 2007 and finished with 30 career sacks. Bakhtiari spent time with the San Diego Chargers, and takes the Bucs final open practice squad spot. On Tuesday wide receiver Patrick Carter and defensive tackle Rashaad Duncan were released from that unit, and rookie offensive lineman Marc Dile filled the other open spot. Dile had been waived by the Buccaneers on Monday when the team signed defensive lineman Michael Bennett.
QUOTE OF THE DAY Bucs head coach Raheem Morris on rumors of former head coach Tony Dungy taking an advisor.
"I have no idea where that came from honestly. The Glazers haven't approached me. I kind of feel bad for coach Dungy because he is at home trying to be with his family and everybody is trying to put him back to work. He's sponsoring everybody. He's mentoring Raheem. He's mentoring Mark Dominik. He's just hanging out in Tampa enjoying his family. If the Glazers have a conversation with Tony Dungy that is their prerogative. I'm excited for Tony Dungy, but I feel bad for Tony. That is just all speculation. If it had any truth to it than so be it. My job is to try win this week. That is my job."
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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