Lovie Lauds Leonard Johnson

July 26th, 2014

Strong words from the head coach

Another Schiano-Dominik man is wowing Bucs defensive coaches.

Jiminy Christmas! There’s a chance only two first-time Buccaneers, Michael Johnson and Alterraun Verner, will be defensive starters. Also, keep in mind Lovie Smith considers nickel cornerback the 12th starter on defense.

Joe asked Lovie yesterday about the status of the nickel corner position in the wake of D.J. Moore getting cut last week.

Shortly after being hired, Lovie handpicked Moore, who played nickel for Lovie in Chicago. So his ousting was a surprise. He seemed to be the front-runner for the job in Tampa.

But Lovie explained that he and his staff had other ideas, especially after Moore was sidelined a little in spring practices.

“We like Leonard Johnson,” Lovie said.

Lovie also named Danny Gorrer, one of the chosen three, and said there are others in the mix.

Johnson, the pride of Clearwater, was an undrafted free agent in 2012, a guy Greg Schiano and former rockstar general manager Mark Dominik were hoping would go undrafted so they could make a play on him.

Now Joe’s not about to pretend Johnson is a great player. Joe doesn’t think that’s the case, but perhaps there’s more there than meets the eye. Lovie was a defensive backs coach, Leslie Frazier was, too, as well as a top cornerback in the NFL. Pro Bowl corner Gil Byrd, now the Bucs cornerbacks coach, is a trusted confidant of Lovie. It’s hard not to trust those guys.

33 Responses to “Lovie Lauds Leonard Johnson”

  1. Berdj J. Rassam Says:

    Leonard Johnson is a solid player now in his 3rd season in the NFL, and could be a starter on multiple NFL teams.

  2. RCH Says:

    Is that picture from two years ago when we played San Diego at home for veterans day weekend?

  3. Bill Says:

    He is slow for a corner. That’s why he wasn’t drafted. Speed has never been an essential part of being a solid cover-2 corner. This defense must be a much better fit.

  4. Owlykat Says:

    Johnson has all the attributes of a great Nickel Corner–hard worker, good tackler, NFL starting experience, a real playmaker, and a great attitude. His only downside is his average speed. But we have a future Hall of Famer now retired, who played corner and switched to the nickel corner position to cover the slot anytime we moved to three corners–and he had those same attributes and only average speed too. If we have a slot receiver who is a burner to cover all Lovie has to do is bring in Gorer to cover them, who is not as good a tackler or playmaker but can stay with the slot player who is a burner. When we play Charlotte, they likely will play the burner they got from us when we didn’t resign him. Right now he is their second receiver. If they move him to slot we will need to put Gorer in as our nickel corner. I am very happy for Johnson, who is a hometown player who has done well for a free pick up after he went undrafted.

  5. Jerseybucsfan Says:

    I like Johnson he seem to always be one step behind in making the play and a cover 2 should help him a lot. And he does have better coaching 😉

  6. RastaMon Says:

    I wish him the best…Lynch & Barber were puzzled and stiff….early too

  7. Eastsidebuc Says:

    Great article Joe! I always liked LJ and thought he could be a playa. I tailgate with his people and we were kinda nervous about all this competition. So it’s good to hear that he outchea ballin!!!!!

  8. Frank the tank Says:

    I don’t know why he is the pride of Clearwater. He went to Largo High School right?

  9. biff barker Says:

    Leonard’s biggest issue is covering the burners down the sideline IMO. He’s got good ball skills and will stick his nose in there but isn’t well suited to play the outside. He’s still young too.
    Kinda reminds me of Ronde his first two seasons in. Many CB’s spend this time getting schooled by the savy vet WR’s. He absolutely defined the qualities a nickel CB must possess.
    Our boy Ira needs beat the Barber drum for Canton.

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I have always like LJ…..he seems to be around the ball and makes big plays. When it comes to a position like this, I really trust Lovie Smith to judge the best talent.
    Maybe the two years experience has helped LJ to become really good….probably not great….but stranger things have happened. I also like Danny Gorrer.

  11. jb Says:

    Johnson’s got heart and then some, and btw Joe, he’s really the Pride of Largo, where he graduated high school. His speed is his only real drawback. He’s smart, hardworking, and a motor that never stops. I wish we had 10 more like him. I’m really glad to hear he’s fitting in so well in Lovie’s Tampa 2, as I didn’t think he was gonna be here after Schiano got canned. Say what we will about Schiano and his dictorial, anal retentive ways. The dude brought in some good players…and some bad ones.

  12. Touch_Down_Tampa_Bay Says:

    Ronde Barber liked LJ:


    Maybe the coaches are seen what Ronde saw…

  13. Joe Says:

    Johnson’s got heart and then some, and btw Joe, he’s really the Pride of Largo, where he graduated high school.

    Joe saw him quarterback for the Packers so many times, he can’t count. Dude was a tough SOB, even in high school.

    Fact is, he grew up in Greenwood (northwest Clearwater) and at least his rookie year, stayed in his mom’s house.

  14. clafollett Says:

    I’ve been a fan of LJ since his first year. He’s not the fastest but he gives his best effort and has a great attitude. That’s hard to find now a days.

    I think he lacked the great coaching, just like the rest of the team. Just look at the Washington secondary under Raheem. Not good. LJ will get the proper teaching this year and I suspect we will see much better results out of him.

    Go get ’em LJ! I’m rootin’ for ya!

  15. Andrew 1 Says:

    I know he’s gone, but I just saw this recent photo of Nicks and I call major BS on the guy having worked out at all or having lost any weight. The guy looks like one of those Macy’s day parade balloon floats.


    Got to be close to 400 pounds. I wish the bucs would have been more upfront about his situation, because seeing a picture like that says it all. Oh well, I guess water under the bridge.

  16. clafollett Says:


    In an interview he did at the end of the minicamp, I noticed it right away. He looked like the Stay-puff Marsh-mellow man. He’s already a big man but it was pretty obvious he wasn’t trying to get in any shape but round.

  17. Suq Maddiq Says:


  18. Andrew 1 Says:

    @ clafollet

    LOL, I know right! If he’s been losing weight, then I don’t even want to know how fat he REALLY got. Would have rather the bucs said “we dont know” instead of feeding us all that baloney.

  19. JT Says:

    Im so proud to say me and LJ are both former Packers 🙂

  20. buc4lyfe Says:

    When the opposing team needs a first down, for the third straight year if he’s on the field he will be the target

  21. Buccfan37 Says:

    I’m also a big fan of Leonard Johnson from the start and always wanted him to stick with the Bucs. He has got a lot of negative comments here in the past. Call me a homer, that’s part of it.

  22. BucTrooper Says:

    He’s terrible.

  23. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Joe, one of your ad scripts just tried to install the Win32:Evo-gen [Susp] virus on my newly formatted system. The only page open. Thankfully, my anti-virus stopped it.

  24. BUC4LIFE79 Says:

    As long as him being a nickel corner DOESN’T EQUAL HIM “covering” Marques Colston on the final Saints drive of this seasons coming games or any other 6’4 + receiver, I’m rooting for him.

  25. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Take a close look at the photo. You never caught Barber putting on a show as he ran a pick back. He just did his job and never sought glory.

    Leonard Johnson would NOT be a starter on any other team unless they were desperate. You guys are talking him up because Lovie did, but the truth is he has been subpar.

    He hasn’t earned such props from the fans.

    Lovie has to talk up his players. Just like he talked up Nicks. Bowers. Others. That’s what a head coach does.

    It doesn’t change the truth.

    Leonard Johnson can get better, but he isn’t there yet and I hate it when fans claim otherwise. Barber took until his 5th year, so anything is possible.

  26. Danati74 Says:

    I like him in the mix. He’s not going to be your best CB, but he’s going to make plays. He’s done it before. Just not all the time. 3rd year will be better. Thats all you can ask from a UDFA.

  27. BamBamBuc Says:

    EJ Biggers was a better nickel corner than LJ…

  28. teacherman777 Says:

    Great tackler. Very thick and strong.

    Studies film like a madman.

    Huge heart. Great spécial teamer.

    He will be much better suited for cover 2.

    The Saints and Falcons ALWAYS attacked LJ. And burnt him a lot too.

    But I love Leonard and hope he stays a Buc for life!!

  29. Back, From Davie Jones Locker Says:

    Great kid, with great ball skills.
    Was to slow for a press, or man to man.much better fit in The Tampa 2

  30. Kevin Says:

    GORRER would have had a really good season had he been healthy. He was coming on strong. Between him banks and Verner we have a solid set of backs. WHOOHOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Pass rush will be nasty as well. Can’t wait!!!

  31. Joe Says:


    Thanks for the tip. As always, Joe does not control national ad networks. Will look into this.

    — Joe

  32. andres Says:

    Told ya’ll! LJ will be the starting nickel… damn good corner that can make a run fit with pop.

  33. Brandon Says:

    Leonard Johnson is small and very slow with short arms. However, he plays hard, will tackle, is a good ball athlete, and is intelligent. He would NOT start for nearly any team in the NFL, but he has what it takes to be a good slot CB.