Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson makes the most of more practice time

TAMPA — Josh Johnson understands that with the Bucs' crowded quarterback competition, reps in practices can be few and far between.

And the second-year player knows he'll have to make his chances count if he doesn't want to be the odd man out.

Johnson, 23, got more snaps than usual Friday, and he made some nice throws, including one on a slant to new WR Mario Urrutia that turned into a 70-yard touchdown.

"It was great to go out there and show what I can do," Johnson said. "The opportunities haven't been there, but that's understandable considering the situation right now. I feel like I'm a good-enough player to lead this team. And that's what I tried to do today."

Coach Raheem Morris said he was impressed with Johnson and rookie QB Josh Freeman: "They handled themselves well. They were efficient. They were cautious with the ball, but yet they weren't scared. They managed the huddle. … Those guys are growing up fast."

Morris said Johnson can't let the lack of snaps bother him. The quarterback needs to take advantage of his chances and play well in games, he said.

Johnson agrees: "All I can get into is leading the offense and being the best quarterback I can be, and I'll let the chips fall where they may."

STEP RIGHT IN: Urrutia made a nice first impression.

Urrutia, a former Louisville standout who signed Friday, arrived 30 minutes before practice. The 6-foot-6, 232-pound receiver, released this week by the Jets, jumped right in. Besides his 70-yard touchdown, Urrutia, 23, made a nice leaping touchdown catch over Tanard Jackson.

Urrutia spent last season on the Bengals' practice squad. Morris said the Bucs remembered him from their draft study in previous years. "When you've got a chance to get an exciting guy like that, that kind of size, that kind of talent, it's fun," Morris said. To make room, the Bucs released RB Josh Vaughan.

Assistant wide receivers coach Tim Berbenich and intern Charlie Adams helped Urrutia during practice.

"I didn't really expect to get thrown into the fire that fast, but I'll take it," Urrutia said. "I loved it."

BRYANT BOUNCES BACK: WR Antonio Bryant took the biggest hit of the day, from LB Geno Hayes, during a live, full contact, two-minute drill, then on the next play delivered a knockout blow to the defense.

Bryant beat rookie CB E.J. Biggers down the left sideline and made a one-handed catch of a perfectly thrown pass from QB Byron Leftwich for a 40-yard-plus touchdown. Leftwich said that nothing was said in the huddle after the hit: "He knew we had to keep going."

Morris said he had no problem with Hayes' vicious hit on his No. 1 receiver. He was even upset at Bryant on the play for not getting out of bounds during the two-minute drill. The anger subsided after the touchdown by Bryant, who returned to practice after missing four days with a sore knee.

"I'm a competitor," Bryant said. "It's just something to show the younger guys. You may have some guys go down. If not, I'll come back out here and show you how it's supposed to be done and try to push everybody to another level."

INJURY REPORT: Morris said DT Greg Peterson (left knee), T Jeremy Trueblood (back) and kick returner Clifton Smith (hamstring) are day-to-day. DE Kyle Moore and DE Louis Holmes returned to practice.

Staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com

Best exchange

Bucs coach Raheem Morris said he messed with Ronde Barber after the veteran cornerback dropped a potential interception, telling him he "would have caught that when he was 30." Morris joked that Barber, 34, had some choice words for him and added, "It ain't Sunday."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson makes the most of more practice time 08/07/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 7, 2009 11:47pm]

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