Bruce Johnson

Bombers DB Bruce Johnson is a happy no-name

BruceJohnsonGiants
His name is Bruce Johnson, and he’s a starting halfback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Never heard of him?

He’s totally cool with that.

“It’s good that they haven’t said my name for messing up,” Johnson said Friday.

The Bombers completed their preparations for Sunday’s 11th annual Banjo Bowl at Investors Group Field, where once again Johnson will be tasked with covering one of the opposing team’s top receivers. The fact not a lot of people have heard of Johnson is a good thing, because it means he hasn’t been getting torched. He’s ready to break out of his shell, though, because he played his college ball at the University of Miami, where they invented swagger.

“Hopefully you can hear my name if I get some pick sixes or something,” the 26-year-old from Lake City, Fla., said. “I have that U blood in me, so if you see me around here doing something crazy, don’t mind me. That’s just how we act. I’ve been kind of reserved because this is my first year, but I’m about to start letting it loose a little bit.”

Johnson is the reason the Bombers traded Alex Suber to the Toronto Argonauts earlier this week. When Suber went down with a hamstring injury in the second pre-season game, Johnson stepped in and didn’t let go of the starting role. He is one of four Bombers with interceptions this season, and the list of receivers he has shut down is an impressive one. He has lined up against the likes of S.J. Green, Fred Stamps, Jason Barnes and Weston Dressler, whom he will see again on Sunday when the Saskatchewan Roughriders pay their annual post-Labour Day visit.

Another reason you why might not have heard of Johnson is because opposing teams might be steering clear of him, lest he pluck the pigskin out of the air and take it the other way.

“They come at me a little bit. It’s not as much as I thought they would, but they come at me,” Johnson said. “When they do, when the challenge does arise, I’ll take it. You win some, you lose some, but at the end I feel like I win the majority.”

He must be doing rather well, because the Bombers secondary as a whole is winning the majority of its battles this season. An opposing receiver has yet to hit the century mark against the Blue and Gold, who have turned the trick three times in 10 games. Winnipeg is fourth in the CFL when it comes to fewest passing yards allowed per game.

Plenty of that success can be attributed to Johnson, who made the New York Giants as an undrafted rookie in 2009 and proceeded to record the first pick six in AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, off Tony Romo. It was his second career game.

“That set me off, because I was coming in undrafted, I finally made the team, and then I get a chance to play,” he said. “I played the first week and then the second week I came and the sky was the limit from there. I played throughout the rest of the season.”

Johnson earned the most performance-based pay of any Giants player in 2009, giving putting half a million dollars in his bank account when all was said and done. At this point he was probably thinking he would be in the NFL for as long as he wanted. Injuries, however, put him on a path to the Canadian prairies. He injured his knee six games into the 2010 campaign and then tore his Achilles tendon during New York’s 2011 training camp. He went back to Giants camp in 2012 but suffered a serious shoulder injury and the G-Men released him.

Just like that, his NFL days were over.

After spending a year waiting for the call that never came, Johnson decided to turn his attention north. He had no problem starting over in a new league that was in a different country.

“I’m having a great time here. I like it here,” Johnson said. “It’s just new. I’m from a small town, so where I’m from we don’t get to see too much. Just getting out and seeing different things is like an accomplishment. So if I have the means to go see different places in another country, I’ll do it. So this was a plus. I wasn’t down about coming here at all.”


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(winnepegsun.com)
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Bruce Johnson Not Giving Up His Starting Spot

BruceJohnsonGiants
Before this season, Alex Suber had appeared in 65 CFL games and started 65 CFL games.

Now he can’t even get on the field.

“It’s frustrating,” the pint-sized defensive back said after today’s Bomber practice.

The Middle Tennessee State product is a man of few words, and he didn’t have too much to say about his current predicament. Despite missing just seven starts over the last four years due to injury and playing well enough to keep his job while others struggled, Suber finds himself on the outside looking in after a training camp injury led to Bruce Johnson getting his starting job.

Suber said it’s a strange situation because he believes he can still be a dominant defensive back, not because he’s been starting for the Bombers for the last four years.

“I wouldn’t say it’s weird,” Suber said. “I’m a player. I’m up here to play. So if I’m not on the field it’s going to be weird, regardless if I was starting last year or the year before.”

Suber was the starting strong-side halfback through all of training camp until pulling his hamstring in the team’s second pre-season game. He was still nursing the injury in Week 1, but he was ready to play against Ottawa in Week 2. He’s still waiting to get back on the field.

“Alex has been extremely professional,” head coach Mike O’Shea said today. “He works extremely hard every day, and he makes the people around him better. That’s the guys competing against him from the offensive side. He makes them work. He knocks balls down. He gets balls out of people’s hands. He’ll pick the ball if the quarterback throws it even off a little bit. He provides good, tight coverage. He’s been extremely professional.

“I can appreciate that it’s going to be frustrating for Alex Suber. As camp broke and Alex wasn’t ready to start the season, Bruce Johnson stepped in and hasn’t shown any reason why he shouldn’t be there.”


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(torontosun.com)
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Bruce Johnson figures he's ready for Ricky Ray

BruceJohnsonGiants
Ricky Ray? Blue Bomber Bruce Johnson has heard of him. Never seen him play, though.

Except on film, that is.

On Thursday, Johnson will get up-close-and-personal with the future hall-of-fame quarterback when his Bombers host Ray and the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL season-opener for both teams.

Johnson will be part of a green-as-grass Winnipeg defensive backfield, one of three players filling in for injured starters.

“I hear they say he’s a good quarterback,” a casual-sounding Johnson said of Ray. “Has a good deep ball, can look you off and everything. But with film and everything, I think we’ll be fine with what we have out here.”

Johnson, 26, has reason not to be star-struck.

His brief NFL career included practising against Eli Manning and playing against Drew Brees, when he played 22 games for the New York Giants in 2009 and 2010.

Newcomer Maurice Leggett will in a similar boat against the Boatmen, starting his first CFL game, but having NFL experience to lean on.

“I’ve gone against Brett Favre, twice,” Leggett said. “Pre-season and regular season. He could thread a needle between me and you right now.”

And what has he heard about Ray, who leaves pass defences in shreds on a regular basis?

“I know he has a great deep ball,” Leggett said, predicting an “entertaining” game, Thursday.

“Entertaining means I’m getting a lot of action.”

Leggett and Johnson will fill in for the injured Korey Banks and Alex Suber, while Canadian backup Matt Bucknor will play instead of the limping Donovan Alexander.

“You let ’em go,” head coach Mike O’Shea said. “I’m not trying to scare them, by any means. They need to do what they’re doing, play within the system, play their techniques and they’ll be fine.”


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(winnnipegsun.com)
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Bruce Johnson still hungry

BruceJohnsonGiants
One member of the large secondary group that has distinguished himself lately at Bombers training camp has been Bruce Johnson, a former New York Giants safety.

The Florida native spent four years with the G-Men, but injuries derailed his NFL career and now he finds himself in Winnipeg, trying to keep the dream alive.

“I’m still hungry,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I got a taste of it before and had a promising career. Unfortunately injuries came along, so I just want to show people I still got it. I still love this game at the end of the day.”

Johnson had a strong mini-camp in Tampa, and he has performed well during training camp despite being a member of the third-string defence. He likely would have had an interception in the first pre-season game if a teammate hadn’t tipped the ball just before it arrived, and he had a pick on Saturday night in Calgary during Winnipeg’s pre-season finale.

On Tuesday he was running with the first-team defence since Alex Suber was on the sidelines with an injury.


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(winnipegsun.com)
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Bruce Johnson Out For Preseason Finale

BruceJohnson
In a surprise move last night, proCane DB Bruce Johnson did not play for the Giants last night versus the Patriots. Johnson is vying for a roster spot, and it was thought that last night’s final preseason game was key to him making the squad. Most believed before the game that he could potentially even be a starter for the Giants in their Week 1 matchup versus the Cowboys because of injuries to their secondary. We’ll have to wait and see what comes of this.


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Bruce Johnson realizes urgency to improve his play

BruceJohnsonGiants
I was wondering why so many people were all over Kenny Phillips for the first touchdown the Giants gave up to the Bears on Friday night. It wasn’t until I watched the broadcast today when I heard Dan Dierdorf criticizing Phillips that it all made sense.

But Dierdorf, whose opinions are very strong even when very off-base (see the untimed down note below), didn’t properly break down the play for the audience.

You see, Phillips was clearly upset with the way Bruce Johnson played that one because Johnson, as the cornerback in a Cover-2 look, should’ve funneled Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall toward the middle of the field so Phillips could’ve had a better shot to cover him.

For those who read our Giants practice reports and see how defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is always talking about “leverage,” that’s what he means. Johnson should’ve maintained outside leverage.

“Bad technique on my part,” Johnson said after the game.

Okay, enough picking on Johnson. That’s not what I set out to do here. Rather, he was very honest on Friday night while assessing his play as he comes back from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in camp last summer, so I wanted to pass that along to you.

“I’ll be ready. I’ve just got to tighten up on my technical things,” Johnson said when asked if he’ll be needed to play a big role in light of the potential loss of Prince Amukamara for a bit. “I’ve been out for a year and a half, almost two years (since his last game), so I’m still getting back into the swing of things. Coach says he wants me to move a little quicker, which is no problem. I understand that fully. I’m just going to keep working, do what I have to do, work on my craft and get better.”

Johnson, if you recall from his pick six against the Cowboys in 2009, has been a nice little player for the Giants in the past. He has to find that form again, especially after giving up the touchdown to Marshall and getting beat for another one when wide receiver Joe Anderson beat him on a spin move after catching a hook.

“I think he wants me to (make) a little bit more plays on the ball,” Johnson said of what his coach is telling him. “But I’m getting back into it and I’m coming along pretty well.”

Asked if it’s all a part of the recovery process, Johnson replied, “Yes it is. Being out of football for almost a year and a half, two years, seeing the reads and everything, getting back into the swing of things. I’m progressing but he wants me to move a little bit quicker.”


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(nj.com)
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