Bucs DE George Johnson plans bounceback season under new staff

Bucs DE George Johnson, tackling the Falcons’ Matt Ryan, had no sacks last season after posting six in 2014.
Bucs DE George Johnson, tackling the Falcons’ Matt Ryan, had no sacks last season after posting six in 2014.
Published April 27, 2016

TAMPA — A year ago, the Bucs traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Lions to land DE George Johnson, who got a three-year, $7 million contract 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 in 2014, when he had six sacks.

"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."

TURNING A CORNER: CB Johnthan Banks went from being a second-round pick as the Thorpe Award winner at Mississippi State and leading the team in interceptions in his second season to a bench warmer on the worst secondary in the NFL.

Last season, he sustained a knee injury and eventually lost his job through demotion or injury to Tim Jennings, Mike Jenkins and finally Jude Adjei-Barimah.

"Man, it's been tough. It's my fourth year and I've had three different head coaches," Banks said. "But I mean, that's life. It happens. You've got to adapt. You've got to live and learn.

"I'm looking forward to learning this defense. (Defensive backs coach Brett) Maxie knows what he wants, and (secondary) coach (Jon) Hoke knows what techniques they want. Just trying to get them honed down and go out there and play 100 percent full speed."

Banks has had a new defensive scheme to learn every year dating back to high school.

"That's crazy. All through college I had four defensive coordinators and here, in the pros, it's going to be my fourth defensive coordinator," Banks said. "I mean, it's life. I'm enjoying it. I thank God for the opportunity."

THIS AND THAT: Alterraun Verner has been back working as a first-team CB opposite newcomer Brent Grimes in the first two days of minicamp. … Amid talk that backup QB Mike Glennon could be dealt for a draft pick this weekend, the Bucs had three QBs stay late with assistant Mike Bajakian after a morning walkthrough. Glennon was the only QB not there. … The Bucs will wrap up their three-day voluntary minicamp today, with a rookie minicamp for draft picks and other rookies next weekend at One Buc Place.

Contact Greg Auman at and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.