Bucs' George Johnson: 2016 'my revenge season'
A year ago, the Bucs traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Lions to land defensive end George Johnson, who got a three-year, $7-million contract and then lost his starting job and failed to get a single sack.
As he prepares for the upcoming season, Johnson is now fighting for a roster spot, even more so if the Bucs take a defensive end high in this weekend's draft. He said a new defensive coordinator and scheme should help him get back to the form he had with six sacks in 2014, and he understands he needs to improve on his production last season.
"I really have to come out and make this my revenge season, start being what they brought me here to be," Johnson said Wednesday after a walkthrough practice. "To tell you the truth, if I don't do what I was supposed to come here to do, I don't see anything I did well. ... I'm starting all over, breaking myself down, seeing what I did wrong and fixing the problem areas."
Johnson likes the new combination of defensive coordinator Mike Smith and defensive line coach Jay Hayes, and said he likes a more aggressive, attacking philosophy from what Lovie Smith's defense called for last season.
"It's more in-the-face," Johnson said. "We're more attacking, getting after people, not letting people dictate us, sitting back and waiting. We're going after you now."
Johnson said the motivation to keep his job -- younger ends like Jacquies Smith and Howard Jones were more productive in getting to opposing quarterbacks last year -- will be a strong drive for him.
"Survival's always the thing," he said. "Anything could change in this game. It doesn't matter where you were picked or how much money you make. At any point, you could be gone and out of here."
The team has only had two weeks of conditioning and two days of voluntary minicamp under new coach Dirk Koetter, but Johnson said he sees a different mentality, for the team as a whole and on the defensive line with a new coach there as well after having Joe Cullen last season.
"You can see a different identity from last year -- guys are more relaxed, more in tune, basically talking more," he said. "We're starting to become more of a unit instead of just individuals. ... I really like (Hayes). He's completely different from what we had last year. He's a calmer guy, a more gentle guy, but his stature and his voice says a lot about him."