Whenever a new coach takes over in the NFL, it’s not unusual for some of his former players to follow along.
With the Buffalo Bills this season, that’s the case with cornerback Leonard Johnson, who played last year under Sean McDermott with the Carolina Panthers. Although they spent just one season together, it’s clear Johnson made a strong impression on McDermott.
“The thing that I love about Leonard is how tough he is,” the coach said last week during mandatory minicamp. “He’s like a little Tyson in terms of just the way he approaches the game. He gives us an edge on defense, which is important.”
That McDermott picked Mike Tyson as a comparison was no accident. Johnson grew up in Clearwater, Fla. closely following the youngest-ever heavyweight champion’s career.
“We’re both sort of short and stocky – and aggressive,” Johnson said. “Mike Tyson was fearless. He knew every time he stepped in the ring, he was going to dominate somebody. So to be compared to that, that’s pretty good. But I have to uphold my part.
“I just try to have that mentality. It’s just the will to compete. Being relentless.”
Spring practices aren’t a time for that type of play. Players are in shorts, and hitting is off limits during the workouts. Come training camp, however, that will change.
“I think once guys see that aspect of the game being displayed, it rubs off on people,” Johnson said. “You can’t really display that right now because we’re in shorts, but once we get padded up, a lot of juices will be flowing and that energy will feed off to other people.”
As the lone defensive player with…
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