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Bucs' Michael Johnson admits he needs to produce more

Michael Johnson, trying in vain to get to Aaron Rodgers on Dec. 21, had four sacks and 27 total tackles.
Michael Johnson, trying in vain to get to Aaron Rodgers on Dec. 21, had four sacks and 27 total tackles.
Published Dec. 30, 2014

TAMPA — Bucs DE Michael Johnson, who had four sacks after coming in as a coveted free agent with high expectations, acknowledged Monday that his production wasn't what he wanted in 2014.

He said his priority for next season is getting healthy, though he doesn't want to use injuries as an excuse for his statistics — 27 total tackles, his fewest since he was a rookie in 2009, and five tackles for loss in his first year with the Bucs.

"I'm not going to put an asterisk on it," Johnson said. "I suited up, and every time you suit up, what you put on tape is you. What I put on tape this year is who I was this year. It wasn't up to my standards and definitely wasn't what I expected for this year. But it's over now. There's nothing I can do about that but use it as fuel to go into this offseason and attack it, have the best offseason I've ever had, preparation-wise, and come in and have the best regular season I've ever had. That's my goal, that's what I'm looking forward to and what I'm going to do."

Johnson was listed with ankle and hand injuries during this season, and his optimism for improvement for 2015 begins with getting healthy this spring to put himself in physical shape to succeed.

"I just want to take this time to get as healthy as possible," Johnson said. "I'm excited about this offseason. It's going to be a big one for me. It's going to be a great year next year, and next year starts now."

NO NEED: The top two teams in the draft not hiring new head coaches are usually in line to coach the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., which this year is Jan. 24. But Bucs coach Lovie Smith doesn't sound like someone ready to spend a week working with draft prospects.

"Everybody that we need to see and that we need to talk to, we have first dibs," Smith said. "So we will be able to get all the information we need without coaching the Senior Bowl."

THIS AND THAT: The Bucs can sign practice-squad players and street free agents to futures contracts for 2015, with rosters up from 53 to 90 players in the offseason. The Tampa Bay Times confirmed four signings: former Nevada P Chase Tenpenny, as well as three members of the practice squad: S Shelton Johnson, DT Matt Masifilo and former Armwood and Gators OL Matt Patchan. CB Varmah Sonie was released from the practice squad. … Smith had high praise for second-year S Bradley McDougald, who had his first career interception Sunday, and general manager Jason Licht echoed his comments while on 620-AM. "He's our future back there," Licht said.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 226-3346. Follow @gregauman.

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