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Cornerback Kevin Johnson required little introduction 
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Post Cornerback Kevin Johnson required little introduction
ORCHARD PARK Julian Love Jersey , N.Y. (AP) —upon signing with the Buffalo Bills this spring while attempting to put behind his injury-troubled past with Houston Texans.Johnson was already familiar with Bills defensive backs coach John Butler, who held the same role during Johnson’s first three seasons in Houston. And then there was the surprising warm welcome the 2015 first-round draft pick received from Bills starter Tre’Davious White.“I was like, ‘Man, I’m happy you’re here because you remind me so much of myself,'” White said, recalling the first conversation he had shortly after Johnson signed a one-year deal with Buffalo in March. “I was like, ‘That’s what I need. I need somebody that’s going to push me in practice.'”Though the two never played together or knew each other for that matter, White became a big fan after Johnson was selected by Houston with the 16th pick out of Wake Forest. White, then entering his junior season at LSU, was such a student of football he would study each of the top cornerback selections to see how he compared and what he needed to work on to improve his own game.What stood out about Johnson was his remarkable footwork.“His footwork is crazy. He has elite quickness, elite change of the direction,” White said. “It’s just unfortunate the injury stuff that he can’t control has shorted him up to this point and time. But when he’s on the field and he’s healthy, he’s a great Darius Slayton Jersey , great corner. He’s going to be good for us.”The sentiment is shared by Johnson, who is competing for the starting job opposite White, and attempting to kick-start a career after a series of injuries limited him to playing a combined 19 games in his past three seasons following a promising rookie year.“It’s frustrating, but through all that I feel like I’m battle tested because of it,” Johnson said, referring to his past.“I don’t necessarily say I feel I have to prove anything. But for me, I want to finish what I started,” he added. “And that’s just something that motivates me.”Johnson’s versatility stood out during his first season with Houston, for whom he had 11 starts in 17 games — including one in the playoffs — while splitting time at all four secondary positions.The troubles began when he missed the final 10 games of the 2016 season after breaking his foot in a 26-23 overtime win against Indianapolis. Johnson was credited with 10 tackles and a pass defended in that game while missing just one snapplaying through the injury — while knowing it would likely be his final game of the season.The following year, Johnson missed four games with a sprained knee. And then came last year, with his season ending during the Texans’ opener when he sustained his second concussion in a month’s span.Houston elected to release Johnson rather than pick up the fifth-year contract option, valued at $9 million.The 26-year-old Johnson met with several teams before signing a one-year contract with Buffalo.Reuniting with assistant coach Butler played a factor, as did the chance to play in a defense that favors defensive backs T.J. Hockenson Jersey , and finished allowing the second-fewest yards in the NFL last season. Getting recruited by White didn’t hurt, either.“That was awesome. This is a respect thing,” Johnson said of having a fan in White. “I’ve got the same mutual respect for Tre’ and his ability to play the game.”While White’s starting spot is locked up, Johnson’s future is less certain. He’s competing with returning starter Levi Wallace and free-agent addition E.J. Gaines, who returned to Buffalo after spending last season in Cleveland.Johnson has shown glimpses of his ability during spring practices, in which he had three interceptions before the Bills opened their three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday. Butler said he sees the same physical abilities the 6-foot Johnson displayed during his firstthree seasons in Houston. The only question is whether he can stay healthy.Johnson said he’s not once felt sorry for himself over what’s happened.“I believe in myself,” Johnson said. “I don’t think I ever shook my head. I just embraced it all. And I think that’s what makes me me now.”NOTES: C Mitch Morse has begun practicing after having surgery to repair a groin injury shortly after signing with the Bills. … WR Cole Beasley practiced on a limited basis after having a similar operation as Morse. … WR Robert Foster was held out of practice after hurting his foot last week. RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Considering how easily Michael Dickson has adjusted to the NFL and become one of the best punters in the league as a rookie, hearing that he was a bit anxious about a kicking situation may be a surprise.But last Sunday night, the Seattle Seahawks rookie was on the verge of being asked to perform a task he’s never executed outside of messing around at practice or during pregame warmups.Dickson was filled with apprehension at the prospect of having to attempt a drop-kick extra point or field goal. In a game. With a rush coming at him.“We talked about it a little bit and I was freaking out a bit because we haven’t really — I’ve never really hit a drop-kick field goal with the protection and everything,” Dickson said. “We kind of worked on that (this week) and got used to it. Feel a little bit more comfortable now with that, but really only hit them messing around in warmups and doing my kickoffs.”Dickson has turned into a kicking marvel during his rookie season with Seattle, more than justifying the fifth-round pick spent on the Australian by way of Texas. He’s a Pro Bowl selection. He’s been an NFC special teams player of the month. Until this past week he led the NFC in yards per punt , both gross and net. His variety of punting styles — whether trying for hang time, directional kicks, or pinning opponents inside the 20 — has made him a weapon and a boost to Seattle’s defense.And he provided one of the more shocking moments of the season when he ran out of his own end zone on a fake punt for a 9-yard gain and a first down late in Seattle’s win at Detroit in October.But even Dickson was a bit unsure of what was going to happen last week after kicker Sebastian Janikowski was injured getting roughed on a field goal attempt. Dickson stepped in and used a drop kick on a pair of kickoffs — which he had done in a couple of circumstances during the season — but the idea of trying to drop-kick one through the uprights was daunting.As it turned out, Janikowski wasn’t seriously injured and Dickson wasn’t needed to try a field goal.“That was always the thing if something happened I was going to have to go in and do it but we never really … we’ve done it before but not to the depth of where I feel comfortable being back there,” Dickson said. “It’s hard to get backup reps as a backup kicker. Definitely going to work on it more the next couple of weeks and through the offseason work on it more, trying to get my operation down.”Dickson started working on drop kicks while at Texas just for fun. He’s continued to practice it with Seattle.But last week’s scare has ramped up the need to have a plan should it ever be needed in a game. Dickson said the biggest issue is figuring out how far back to stand to receive the snap while taking into account the time needed to get a proper drop on the ball and get the kick away. Dickson estimates he’s been able to hit from 60 yards in the past, but that’s without a rush.“I’m kind of messing around with the idea of doing a punt depth just because it would give me a little more time to spin the laces and get the laces right,” Dickson said. “It’s a slower get-off time because you have to drop it and wait for it to bounce and then kick it. We’re trying to see what works best.”For his part, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he’ll be quick to turn to Dickson if needed, whether for his unique kickoffs or a field-goal attempt.“We’ve got a lot of things that he can do that if we need him, he can jump in. I really wouldn’t hesitate. … It’s pretty exciting. He’s an exciting weapon for us,” Carroll said.

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