Johnson, Bills learning from mistakes

Johnson, Bills learning from mistakes

By Danny Picard

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

Giants finally release Josh Brown


Giants finally release Josh Brown

From the It’s About Time department, the Giants announced Tuesday that they have released kicker Josh Brown. 

Brown’s release comes after a messy week for both the organization and the NFL as details about Brown’s admitted domestic violence emerged. The NFL, which initially suspended Brown for one game for a 2015 fourth-degree domestic violence charge, placed him on the commissioner’s exempt list Friday. While on the exempt list, Brown was still under employment with (and therefore paid by) the Giants. His release ends a four-year stint in New York after previously playing for the Seahawks, Rams and Bengals. 

"We believed we did the right thing at every juncture in our relationship with Josh," Giants president and co-owner John Mara said in a statement. "Our beliefs, our judgments and our decisions were misguided. We accept that responsibility.

"We hope that Josh will continue to dedicate himself to rehabilitation, and to becoming a better person and father. We will continue to support him in his efforts to continue counseling, and we hope that Josh and his family can find peace and a positive resolution.

"We have great respect and feel strongly about our support for the good people who work tirelessly and unconditionally to aid the victims of domestic violence and who bring awareness to the issue. We have been partners with My Sisters' Place (a domestic violence shelter and advocate based in Westchester, New York) for nearly 20 years. The leadership of that organization has provided invaluable insight as we have considered our decisions in this matter. We value and respect their opinion, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future."

Belichick doesn't rule out possibility of Lewis practicing this week


Belichick doesn't rule out possibility of Lewis practicing this week

Last week, when Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked if his team would have guard Tre' Jackson or running back Dion Lewis available at practice, Belichick said "probably not." For him, that's about as definitive as it gets. 

This week, it's a different story. 

Belichick was asked on Tuesday if the Patriots would "start the clock" on Lewis and Jackson, both of whom have been on the physically unable to perform list since training camp. The Patriots have five more weeks to determine whether or not they would like to have Lewis or Jackson practice. Once they do begin practicing, the clock starts, and the team will have three weeks to activate them. 

"We’ll have to talk with our medical and conditioning staff and kind of get a sense of where everybody is, and then figure that out from when practice starts on Wednesday," Belichick said. "So we’ll take a look at that information and see where we are, and then make a decision on it prior to Wednesday’s practice."

It wasn't a confirmation that either player would practice, but it wasn't "probably not," either.