Buccaneers Send Message to Out-of-Shape Wide Receiver

Bruce Arians

Getty The Buccaneers have a deep wide receiver group.

Tyler Johnson has been put on notice after Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians admitted the receiver “had too much fun this summer.” Arians has been critical of Johnson entering training camp out of shape but otherwise has been complimentary of Johnson’s play during practices. The Bucs coach noted that Johnson is close to getting himself back in playing shape.

“Oh yeah, he made his weight this week,” Arians told reporters on August 15. “He did a good job he just had too much fun this summer, but he’s done a good job of being very, very consistent. The one thing I like about Tyler is he’s very consistent.”

Arians’ comments come weeks after he criticized the receiver for being out of shape. In case there was any uncertainty, Arians placed the blame for Johnson’s predicament squarely on the second-year receiver’s shoulders.

“Tyler Johnson came back a little heavy and he’s getting back in shape, which is his own fault,” Arians previously noted, per Tampa Bay Times.

Johnson: ‘It Was My Own Fault for Not Coming in How I Wanted to Be’

Johnson had 12 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns during his rookie campaign which included critical catches during the team’s stretch run. Both Jaydon Mickens and Johnson are currently listed as the fifth receiver on the Buccaneers depth chart behind Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Scotty Miller. To his credit, Johnson took the blame for coming into camp in less-than-ideal form.

“Coach B.A. is definitely right,” Johnson explained in early August, via Tampa Bay Times. “I’m not where I want to be at yet but I’ve been doing a lot of things just to get back into shape and it was my own fault for not coming in how I wanted to be. But I’ve learned from it so I’ve done a lot of things to get back to myself but I’m feeling good, feeling better. My goal is to get 1 percent better every day and I’m moving in that direction.”

The Buccaneers have an embarrassment of riches at receiver putting the pressure on Johnson to fight for snaps this season. Tampa Bay also selected former North Texas speedy receiver Jaelon Darden in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft to add to one of the deepest wideout groups in the league.

Johnson on Earning Brady’s Trust: ‘It Was Huge’

Johnson may not have had a plethora of catches in his rookie season, but Tom Brady trusted the receiver to make plays in critical situations. During an April interview with The Athletic’s Greg Auman, Johnson described earning Brady’s trust as “huge” while also crediting the coaching staff.

“It was huge,” Johnson explained. “It feels great that my teammates and the coaching staff have trust in me in those big moments. For them to call my number, to see the hard work and the day-to-day dirty work I do, I’m just going to keep going and keep gaining their trust even more.”

As the 2020 season showed, injuries can pop up with could open up more opportunities for Johnson and the other young receivers. For now, Johnson will be fighting to see the field during four-to-five wide receiver formations.

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