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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Josh Johnson accepts the uncertainty of a crowded quarterback scenario

From left, quarterbacks Josh Freeman, Josh Johnson and Luke McCown are competing along with Byron Leftwich for three spots. “All you can do is control what you can control,’’ says Johnson, a fifth-round pick in 2008.

DIRK SHADD | Times

From left, quarterbacks Josh Freeman, Josh Johnson and Luke McCown are competing along with Byron Leftwich for three spots. “All you can do is control what you can control,’’ says Johnson, a fifth-round pick in 2008.

TAMPA — Josh Johnson doesn't know where he will be when the dust settles in the quarterback battle.

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But he does know he won't obsess over it anymore.

Johnson says he has overcome his frustration about the uncertainty in his immediate future and is channeling his energy into improving on the field.

"I talked to a lot of the veterans on the team and they all told me, 'Hey, you have the talent. You just have to be patient,' '' said Johnson, a 2008 fifth-round pick. "All you can do is control what you can control. When I took that mind-set, it made a big difference. I let it go and I've been enjoying it."

Johnson is the player who seems most exposed in this quarterback derby. The team has four and has said it plans to keep three. But Johnson has looked impressive in practices and was effective in mop-up duty at Tennessee Saturday night.

There are some indications Johnson's departure isn't a foregone conclusion. It's also possible Johnson could be appealing to another club in a trade scenario.

But, that said, he seems to have had somewhat limited opportunity to make the team. Still, he is relishing every moment he spends under center, in games and practices.

"It's like I'm a kid in a candy store," he said. "I enjoy it if it's one snap or 10 snaps. I just love to be out there. When you look around at what's going on in the world, you realize, you've got a great job. You just have to really appreciate what you have and take advantage of it. When I started taking a more positive look, it all made sense to me."

Johnson played late in the preseason opener, completing 3 of 5 passes for 15 yards. He had what was arguably the highlight of the game when he turned a busted play into a 43-yard touchdown run. In practice Tuesday, he made several impressive throws, continuing a trend in recent weeks.

But the reality is that he is the quarterback the Bucs are least invested in. Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown each have two-year, $7.5 million contracts. And Josh Freeman was this year's first-round pick.

NUGENT NAILING 'EM: Mike Nugent, battling Matt Bryant for the starting kicking job, was 4-for-5 in practice. He hit field goals of 40, 42, 42 and 45 yards, and missed a 45-yarder.

"I feel good," he said. "I think today's a really good day for practice. Being a right-footed kicker, a wind like this — blowing from left to right —it's a little in your face. You'd rather have it at your back.

"But it's good to practice in this. Everything felt real solid and you just have to realize, just because the wind might be blowing a little different, don't think about it. You factor it in and try to hit the same ball every time."

TWO-A-DAYS OVER: Tuesday was the last two-a-day practice and coach Raheem Morris gave an enthusiastic appraisal of the team's effort after morning practice in full pads.

"I'm starting to see the team develop its own personality," said Morris, who used the afternoon session for conditioning and a walk-through in preparation for Jacksonville Saturday night.

He stressed to players to focus only on playing their best: " … I told them all last night. Nobody on this 80-man roster is worried about being cut. Because if you're worried about being cut, then you probably already are. Right now you are playing your lights out. Don't go around counting numbers, because we'll keep the 53 best people. Don't count numbers at positions, don't count anything. I don't know what we're going to do."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Josh Johnson accepts the uncertainty of a crowded quarterback scenario 08/18/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:49am]

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