Doug Marrone wants WR Stevie Johnson to know Bills still want him
INDIANAPOLIS -- Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone has reached out to Stevie Johnson to make sure the top receiver doesn't think the club is down on him.
After the season, BuffaloBills.com writer Chris Brown said on WGR 550 the coaching staff was unable to convince Johnson to buy into the team concept.
"I've been communicating with Stevie about something to that effect," Marrone said today outside Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the NFL scouting combine.
Marrone said he contacted Johnson within the past week to clear the air.
"We had a great conversation," Marrone said. "I told Stevie, 'Hey, listen. I'm excited about getting started with you. I'm excited about you coming in and getting healthy and get this team going ... and whatever else you're hearing, it's not coming from me."
Marrone mentioned he thought the Johnson report came from CBS Sports, but a Bills employee publicly discussed over the airwaves concerns about Johnson.
"I don't know that anybody felt on the staff thought that they could effectively get in his head, relate to him, know what he was feeling, thinking all the time" Brown said of Johnson on Jan. 3, after the team fired receivers coach Ike Hilliard. "I think it's because Stevie's just a different breed of cat.
"I don't think it's any reflection on this coaching staff. I think this coaching staff did a really good job of kind of aligning themselves with the players, where they felt they were all in this thing together and they were all allies. ...
"But I think Stevie's a hard guy to reach, and when you're trying to build a thing where it's all for one and one for all, and it's hard to reel a guy into that, it makes you wonder just where they feel they're going with him."
Brown's opinion should be considered Bills-approved information. Brown's title is "lead journalist," but he's a member of the Bills' marketing and broadcasting department.
Brown's comments fell in line with what I and other reporters had heard about Johnson's act wearing thin among his teammates before Johnson missed the last two games because of his mother's death.
Johnson led the Bills with 52 receptions, but failed to gain 1,000 yards for the first time in four seasons. He was bothered by back, hamstring and hip injuries and missed a game because of them.
Johnson has not spoken to reporters since Dec. 15, before he left the team for his mom's funeral.