Bills Camp: Rookie Johnson opening eyes

Rookie Steve Johnson has been making plays at practice...Final practice time changed...Tight end goes down "indefinitely"

The Buffalo Bills coasted through free agency without signing a premier wide receiver, merely flirting with Bryant Johnson briefly.

While that has left the unit thin on experience, it does allow for anybody to step up. Seventh-round pick Steve Johnson is doing just that. Trent Edwards has sung Johnson's praise during practices and it's easy to see why. Monday he had at least five game-situation catches. Although he's been fairly quiet through two preseason games (2 rec., 7 yards), Johnson's been utilized everywhere. He's lined up in the slot, on the outside and in motion.

"Coming from Kentucky we were always fighting for positions so I can say I'm somewhat used to it, but now there's more at stake," Johnson said. "Getting a few reps and then days like this when I'm getting a lot of reps. It varies, but you've got to stay focused and stay in the playbook because you never know when your name is going to be called."

On a receiving corps thirsting for playmakers, Johnson could be a nifty weapon for Edwards. This is the time for him to shine, after all. James Hardy (hamstring), Roscoe Parrish (knee) and Scott Mayle are all currently sidelined with injuries.

Most likely, Johnson's chief competition for playing time will be Justin Jenkins.

Jenkins worked with Josh Reed and Lee Evan on the starting offense when the unit went three-wide. He was cut by the Bills after camp last year, put on the practice squad and rejoined in late October when a chunk of the team's 17 players placed on injured reserve hit the training room. A versatile player on special teams, Jenkins is more valuable to the team than Johnson right now.

"I enjoy special teams," said Jenkins in the Grand Island Record. "A lot of us aren't going to play wide receiver every Sunday. That's just the nature of the game. If it comes down to making the team just on special teams, I'm fine with that."

Despite Jenkins' kamikaze capabilities on coverage units, Johnson's stole the spotlight at St. John Fisher. Albeit with J.P. Losman and the No. 2 offense, Johnson made three catches in one offensive series, while adding a deep gain on a reverse.

Now this practice hero needs to translate success to Buffalo's next exhibition game against Indianapolis. The Bills may be wise to stick Johnson in the slot next to Evans just to see how he could fit into a base offense.

Time change

Buffalo rescheduled Wednesday's camp finale. It will now take place from 9:30 to 11:10 a.m. The Bills will pack up for Orchard Park after this practice. The campus hours for camp will be from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Shuttle buses will begin running at 8:45 am.

Schouman out indefinitely

The tide has turned abruptly at tight end. It appeared for awhile that Derek Schouman might unseat Robert Royal and start, but that has become nothing much a pipe dream now.

Schouman will be out indefinitely with a knee strain suffered against Pittsburgh. During a first quarter kickoff, a player rolled up on Schouman's legs.

Once one of camp's brightest surprises, Schouman will be put on the shelf for quite some time.

Derek is going to be a while," Jauron said. "We're hoping not a long while. But at this point Bud (Carpenter, the Bills' head trainer) is talking in the weeks. So it's not good, but it could have been worse."

Of course, in the same game, Royal all-but cemented his starting spot at tight end with two touchdown grabs from Edwards with the first team. Rookie Derek Fine, free agent pickup Courtney Anderson and Tim Massaquoi should see increased reps in their bid for possibly two roster spots.


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