As the 2011 season was wrapping up, the big question in Buffalo was whether Stevie Johnson would prove good on his promise of re-upping with the Bills. The talks went back and forth until they agreed on a five-year, $36.25 million contract just over two months after the season concluded. Johnson, at the time, was relieved that the situation had been resolved and was ready to get back to playing football.
Part of the holdup on the Bills end is that they wanted Johnson, a four-year veteran, to stop the antics that have too often caught him on the wrong end of the media's jeers. No one needs to spend much time thinking about which mishaps I am speaking of.
Johnson had to reassure the front office that it would be all business from here on out, and he would need to prove that he could be a vocal leader in the locker room instead of a distraction.
Following Buffalo's first preseason game against the Redskins, Johnson had some choice words for both himself and his teammates. The following are quotes taken from Buffalo News writer Tim Graham's blog following the embarrassing performance at home.
"We've got to be better," Johnson told reporters Saturday night at St. John Fisher College. "Preseason game, practice, we've got to be better if we want to get to where we want to be.
"Mentally, we've got to prepare like champions, really. We've got to be past the whole 'Let's win this many games in a row.' We've got to be thinking like champions right now, aggressive and dominant. That's it."
"It's only so long where you can just be the old Bills, just getting beat around in this conference," Johnson said, when asked by Associated Press reporter John Wawrow if Thursday was a wakeup call.
"It's time to turn it around and take over, and I think we've got the team that can do it this year. So why not go out there and go hard and try to take this division?"
Johnson's words may be just that, but they may be a sign that he is looking for accountability from both himself and the rest of his squad. Here is hoping that this is a sign of bigger things to come from him.