Press Conference 4/20/15 transcript: DE George Johnson

Opening statement:
“Hello, everybody. I just wanted to say before I started that I’m glad to be here. I’m actually glad to be back here in Tampa; it still feels like home. I never felt like I actually left and went to another team, so I’m glad to be back here, be out there with the guys, such as Gerald [McCoy], Jacquies [Smith], Lavonte [David] and Mike. It’s going to be a pretty good season. I’m happy, and I’m even more excited after watching the tape to get with these guys.”

If he was pleased that the Buccaneers clearly wanted him on their team:
“Yes, definitely. I always want to be part of a team who wants me, because if the team wants you that means they believe in you. They believe in something that you have, and this is actually the first time I’ve actually been wanted this way. For them to fight for me like that, I’m just excited to get down here.”

Feelings on not staying in Detroit:
“This team wanted me more. This team saw something in me that maybe Detroit didn’t see. So they just wanted to get me down here and actually help out this team. Gerald takes a lot of pressure with how good he is. He’s so consistent each year. Teams key on him a lot. Just to take something off of Gerald actually helps him out, frees him up and frees up the defense.”

How his game has changed since he was last with the Buccaneers:
“I think it did in a way, just size-wise. When I left here I was 280, sometimes 285. Now I’ve cut down to 260-265. Playing that light it just feels like I can do more things. I don’t have the power that I had at 280 but the quickness and agility is even better now.”

If it’s a privilege playing with great DTs like Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy:
“Oh yeah, definitely, because it seems like everywhere I go I follow great D-tackles. It’s a good thing to have, just to learn from these guys and be next to them. It’s just exciting to think about.”

Similarities between Suh and McCoy:
“Just the way they approach the game. There’s really no difference between them. They both approach the game with such tenacity and ferocity that they just attack everything. Just working out with Gerald, he attacked the drill each and every drill that we did. That says a lot. It shows me that these guys want to be the best no matter where they go, no matter where they are. They just continue to compete against everybody.”

The role he will have in the defense:
“They didn’t really tell me anything. They just told me, ‘You’re going to come in here, you’re going to work.’ And I had no problem with that. I’ve been doing that my entire career. I’ve been working to stay on the team, working to find a spot on the roster, so it’s no problem. I don’t care where I really start – rotation or starter – but I’m just going to work, regardless.”

On finally having his breakout season:
“It was satisfying because those couple years that I was actually just waiting, I was actually able to learn. Some guys actually mature by just watching and learning from other people, and that’s what I actually did. I matured by learning from other guys and actually was able to incorporate some of the things that they did into my game.”

If he was surprised the Bucs cut him in 2012:
“Each cut hurts, it doesn’t matter how deep it is. It’s always going to hurt. When they let me go, it got down really deep because that was my college coach. I played with him for four years, and in Tampa, but everything happens for a reason. The way that happened, I can really say it was a blessing in disguise.”

If he’s following the draft:
“I really don’t follow it. When you start worrying about guys coming in, you start looking back at what’s coming up behind you. You’ve always got to look forward.”

How much it helps to play next to strong defensive tackles:
“It actually helps out. If Gerald’s taking all the pressure, it leaves me one-on-one. I went through it last year with Suh, and he was so dominant teams keyed up on him. It actually freed me, so the same thing could happen with Gerald, teams could free me up. But then they’re going to have to worry about both of us and then you really don’t have enough blockers to block everybody.”

What he sees from his fellow Buccaneer defenders that is encouraging:
“Just the one thing that they’ve got – each and every player on this team just plays with so much effort. We were just watching the tape, and I saw guys running down the field, 20 yards down the field, a nose tackle making a tackle or picking up a fumble or getting an interception. Just something like that, you can’t teach. You can’t teach the effort and that’s the one thing that I really like about this whole defense. It’s not about the scheme, it’s just about how the guys play.”

If he ever felt like giving up:
“Yeah, definitely last year when I didn’t get a phone call from anybody I already told my agent that I was ready to retire, and he told me to hold on. I was just done with being up-and-down, up-and-down; being on one team and going to another place; picking up my family for every move. I was just so sick of it so I just told my agent I was done. But he had better advice for me by not retiring and it kind of worked out for us.”

The atmosphere around the team now:
“You can actually see guys are more loose. They are actually looser. Guys are actually interacting with other players. I remember before, guys interacted with only their group. Now I see guys, like the corners interacting with the wide receivers, the quarterbacks with the punters, the D-Line with the running backs. It’s just something like that, and that builds the whole locker room. It actually builds to something better.”

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