Johnson, Bills learning from mistakes

Johnson, Bills learning from mistakes

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson described the Patriots offense as "legit" in a conference call on Wednesday, and says the Bills will need to prevail in a "shootout" if they're to come away with a victory Sunday.

Johnson seems to understand the situation his 4-10 Bills are in. But in winning four of its last six games, Buffalo is a team that's been playing much better than it was when it began the season with an 0-8 record.

This season has been a complete learning experience for the Bills, and more specifically, for Johnson.

The last time he played against the Patriots, Johnson had 3 receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown in Buffalo's 38-30 Week 3 loss at Gillettte. The most memorable part of that 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was Johnson's 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty after the score, which he drew for colorfully blasting off an imaginary musket, mocking New England's mascots.

The last time you've probably seen Johnson in the national spotlight was in Week 12, when he dropped a potential game-winning 40-yard pass in the end zone while wide open in the opening minutes of overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Three plays later, Buffalo punted, and the Steelers scored a game-winning field goal on the drive.

Johnson's postgame press conference showed an ever-so-emotional third-year receiver, desperate to learn from his mistakes. He reiterated that emotion on Wednesday.

"Besides football, I don't have no other job," said Johnson. "I have everything in this thing, this football thing. So when I don't perform to how I feel I should be out there, I take it hard. Because this is how I eat. This is really my life. This is my family's life too. So I feel like I have to make all those plays."

Johnson has 943 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions this season. He considers his breakout season a product of opportunity.

"I haven't done anything over the top, or did anything too different," said Johnson. "It was just opportunity. And when guys that I learned a lot from, which is Terrell Owens and Josh Reed, when they ended up leaving, or when the coaches didn't bring them back, it just opened up a spot for me."

And he's thrived on it. Sure, he -- and his teammates -- made some mistakes along the way. But he believes Buffalo should now start to be taken seriously.

"We've went from wanting to go out there, showing that we can play with a team, to going out there and wanting to show that we will win against teams like New England," said Johnson. "That's the difference in our mentality."

Entering Sunday's rematch with the Patriots, Johnson believes there's not much different with New England's defense from the last time they met in Week 3. And perhaps, saying that is another mistake he'll have to learn from.

"It's an athletic defense," said Johnson. "They're aggressive, talented, but you know, everybody's like that on Sundays, especially in the NFL. So it's everything that we've seen.

"I can't really say that there's too much of a change," added Johnson. "They're still running the same defenses, so there's not too much of a difference. They're more comfortable in their places, and that's pretty much the only thing that I can say about it."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Patriots bolster receiver depth by adding Brown to practice squad

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Patriots bolster receiver depth by adding Brown to practice squad

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have added some receiver depth to their locker room by signing Da'Ron Brown to their practice squad. 

Brown, 25, was a seventh-round pick of the Chiefs in 2015 and spent his rookie season on the Kansas City practice squad. At Northern Illinois, the 6-foot, 199-pounder caught 155 passes in four years, accumulating 2,295 yards and scoring 19 touchdowns. He also rushed for two scores in his career. As a senior in 2014, he caught 68 passes for 1,065 yards. 

With the signing, the Patriots have filled out their practice squad. The team has had an opening on its 10-man unit since the Colts signed away receiver Devin Street for their 53-man roster.

With just four receivers on the Patriots roster, not including special teams ace Matthew Slater, they've loaded up on receiver depth through their practice squad with Brown, Devin Lucien and DeAndrew White.

Brissett, Garoppolo both practicing for Patriots on Tuesday

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Brissett, Garoppolo both practicing for Patriots on Tuesday

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had both of their qurterbacks on the field and suited up for Tuesday's shells-and-sweats practice on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. 

Both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) are dealing with injuries, but both were present for the session, as were the rest of their teammates on the 53-man roster. 

Brissett was spotted in the Patriots locker room before practice with no brace or wrap of any kind on his thumb, but he did have his right thumb taped when out on the field. 

Patriots tight end AJ Derby was the lone player in a black practice jersey, indicating that he has been named practice player of the week. Running low on quarterbacks, Derby may have served as the scout-team quarterback as the Patriots defense prepared for the Texans. He played the position at Iowa and Arkansas before changing positions.

The Patriots have four practices scheduled this week, and the team will release injury reports, as usual, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.