Coming into training camp every year, there are always a few undrafted free agents that get some buzz. And there’s good reason for that, as the Buccaneers — especially under Jason Licht — have a good track record of finding undrafted guys that turn out to be gems.
As expected, there was talk about some of those guys coming into the start of training camp on Friday. Who can be the next undrafted guy to be a key producer for Tampa Bay? It’s a fun camp conversation, and one that has a variety of possible answers this year.
Former Buffalo wide receiver Anthony Johnson has been in that conversation. On Friday morning, I listed five undrafted free agents I was most looking forward to watching in training camp and the preseason. Johnson was on the list, and I made sure to keep an eye on him when the Bucs took the field for practice on Friday afternoon. He did not disappoint. Catching passes from different quarterbacks, the 6-foot-2 receiver made a good impression.
After practice, I had a chance to catch up with Johnson to talk about his first day of training camp.
Q: How did you feel out there during your first day of training camp?
A: “I feel great, you know, just getting back in the rhythm. Had a little break, able to come back and just be myself. We had to play faster and just focus. I got the playbook down, so it helps me just move faster and make plays for this team.”
Q: What do you think of playing in Bruce Arians’ offense? What do you think of Coach Arians and the way he runs things?
A: “He’s a great coach. He’s going to put the best players out there, the guys that are going to make plays. I’m trying to be one of those guys. If I’m starting or a backup, I just gotta wait for my time and I’m going to be able to make plays and he’ll be able to count on me.”
Q: It seems like those depth roles at receiver are up for grabs during this training camp. What can you do over the next month to prove you belong on the roster?
A: “Just make plays when I’m out here practicing. Just show them guys that I can be trusted. Like the quarterback, when he throws me the ball, make plays for him. That’s how you build your trust up with the quarterback. If I’m out here just running my routes good, catching every pass he makes, that’s just more time for the quarterback to trust me.”
Q: What’s it been like for you to get some reps with Jameis Winston?
A: “It was great. Jameis always wants guys to throw with him after practice to get that rhythm down. I just gotta be at the right spot and get the timing down.”
In two years at Buffalo, Johnson totaled 2,367 yards and 25 touchdowns. He has the size and speed to be an NFL receiver, and he’ll be worth following throughout the rest of camp and the preseason. He’ll be competing with Justin Watson, Bobo Wilson, Scotty Miller, DaMarkus Lodge and a number of others for one of the final two wide receiver spots.