Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quiet night a happy one for new Tampa Bay Buccaneer Leonard Johnson

TAMPA — Leonard Johnson has lived a dream for a couple of months as the Clearwater native has suited up for his hometown team, the Bucs.

But the undrafted rookie cornerback from Iowa State still faced a very important obstacle: final cuts.

Friday night he cleared that hurdle — after some nerve-racking hours by the phone.

"(Friday) was a stressful time, but I was at ease knowing that I did put my best effort out and (played) to the best of my ability every day," Johnson said. "Either way it would have went, I think I would have been, not comfortable, but I would've been satisfied."

Johnson's phone never rang — that's a good thing — but he remained wary until arriving at One Buc Place Saturday morning for practice.

"I didn't know I made the team until I came to practice and got my playbook …" he said. "When I got in (Saturday) and I got that playbook, I just sent my mom a text message confirming it. But it's still a long way. I've seen two guys (cut) already."

While the roster will continue to be manipulated, according to coach Greg Schiano, meaning some reserve players could still be cut, the Bucs were impressed by Johnson's performance.

"If you look at his cumulative body of work this preseason, he's played pretty well," Schiano said of Johnson. "He's earned the right to be here. The competition goes on. But right now, he's in a position where he can help us win."

Making the cut allows Johnson to be a part of an event on Tuesday during which the Bucs will break ground on Tampa Bay Buccaneers Field in his old neighborhood. The project is being made possible by a $100,000 grant from the team.

"I wanted to ask how I could play a role in that because I played (there)," Johnson said. "They're opening a new field right in my community. It's going to be real big. If I can play a part in that, because … I grew up throwing footballs right on that field. … Now it's something great."

STILL FLUID: The Bucs still list WR Preston Parker as their top kick and punt returner, but Schiano is not committing to him or anyone else yet.

Rookie RB Michael Smith appears destined to be the kickoff returner after handling 10 of the 11 returns in the preseason. And Schiano said Parker might or might not be the punt returner, where WR Sammie Stroughter is a strong possibility.

"They're all in the mix right now," Schiano said. "I'm not sure who is going to be the guy. There may be more than one guy depending on the situation. I'm not ready to publicly say that. I think I have some thoughts and ideas, but we'll probably work through that more as we go."

Parker jeopardized his role as the primary return man by not cleanly fielding punts, a problem he had last season, too.

QUICK LOOK: The Bucs briefly considered signing former Falcons and Alabama QB John Parker Wilson to their practice squad Saturday before he agreed to join the Jaguars' practice squad. The Bucs, according to the Denver Post, agreed to sign QB Adam Weber to their practice squad, after his release Friday from the Broncos. Tampa Bay needed a practice squad quarterback because it has just two on its active roster.

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