Niagara Gazette

Sports

April 18, 2013

Bills' Johnson upbeat by Marrone's style

Niagara Gazette — ORCHARD PARK — Putting aside his initial apprehensions, receiver Stevie Johnson has begun buying into the Buffalo Bills' offseason rebuilding plans.

Johnson was left impressed Thursday by rookie coach Doug Marrone's upbeat approach and uptempo offense. And he's no longer questioning why the Bills elected against making any big splashes in free agency to address several holes, including a few at receiver.

"A lot of people around were asking, 'Why aren't we making any moves? Why aren't we picking up this guy, that guy?' And I was thinking that, too," Johnson said. So concerned was Johnson, that he publicly lobbied several prospective free agents — including receivers Dwayne Bowe and Darrius Heyward-Bey — to consider signing with Buffalo.

He's since changed his outlook.

"When I came in, and I saw what we're doing, the tempo and the type of team we're building, my faith was just sky high," said Johnson, who has led the team in yards receiving in each of the past three seasons. "I'm going to ride with it."

Johnson's vote of confidence came after the Bills closed a three-day voluntary minicamp. It was the players' first chance to take the field with Marrone, the former Syracuse coach who took over in January after Chan Gailey was fired following a 6-10 finish.

Though Johnson missed all three practices because of a stiff back, he was impressed seeing how fast-paced the individual and team sessions were.

"Just seeing the tempo that we're going, it's intense," Johnson said. "I just can't wait to get out there."

The Bills sprinted from one drill to another, and Marrone could be heard several times urging his team to work even faster.

"Don't be afraid to call a play," Marrone yelled out, when the offense was late getting to the line of scrimmage. "C'mon, guys, no walking."

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