Bills notebook: A hobbled Johnson bemoans latest loss - The Buffalo News
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Bills notebook: A hobbled Johnson bemoans latest loss

PITTSBURGH — Stevie Johnson is frustrated. He’s hurt again, and the Buffalo Bills still can’t figure out how to win.

Johnson left Sunday’s 23-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field with another groin injury, a new one.

“It’s the right side now,” Johnson said. He was hobbled in the fourth quarter and finished with three catches for 48 yards. Bills quarterback EJ Manuel targeted him a team-high 10 times.

Johnson has been dogged by groin, lower back and hip injuries much of the year. He will need to get hot over the final six games to record a fourth straight 1,000-yard season. He’s on pace for 754 yards as it is.

“It’s just one of them years,” Johnson said. “It ain’t like I’m doing anything different except waking up earlier to get more treatment and doing extra work.”

Johnson declined to speculate on how serious his latest groin injury is, but said he wouldn’t be able to play next week against the New York Jets if it doesn’t improve. The Bills have their bye after that.

“I don’t know how it’s going to be for next week,” Johnson said. “I’m probably going to get triple the treatment I usually get. We’ll see if it dies down later in the week.

“If I’m able to work through it, I will. But how I feel right now, I couldn’t do it.”

Johnson never is at a shortage for confidence in his teammates. He looks at the roster and sees too many good players to be 3-7, at the bottom of the AFC East and essentially out of the playoff picture already.

“It’s very frustrating,” Johnson said. “It don’t seem like we’re really doing anything, but there’s so much talent on this team. We’ve got to figure it out. I don’t know how, but we’ve got to find it.

“I think we’ve got the game plan and the attitude. Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to dominate. We got great running backs. We got a ton of confidence in them. We got a ton of confidence in our receivers.

“Maybe it’s chemistry. Maybe we just need to play more together. As we solidify our main QB, I think our offense will get better.”


Bills receiver Chris Hogan also departed in the fourth quarter. He was treated for concussion symptoms after his 16-yard reception converted a third down on the Bills’ lone touchdown drive.

With Johnson and Hogan out of the game, rookie tight end Chris Gragg and receiver Marcus Easley saw some rare targets and each made his first NFL reception.

Gragg made all four of his team-high four receptions, including a 2-yard TD grab, on the final drive.

Easley, a 2010 fourth-round draft choice, had been limited to special-teams duty when he hasn’t been hurt. He had two catches for 13 yards.


Rookie receiver Robert Woods was unable to play because of the ankle injury from last Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Woods didn’t practice throughout the week.

Woods is Buffalo’s second-busiest wide receiver. He has 26 catches for 349 yards and two touchdowns, although his production has cooled after a warm start.

With Manuel and backup Thad Lewis back from injuries, the Bills also scratched last week’s starting quarterback, Jeff Tuel.


Sunday’s most symbolic play for Buffalo came in the third quarter. The defense appeared to hold Pittsburgh to a field goal on a third-and-3 play from the 11-yard line.

Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was lined up to block the kick. He bolted early and was called for encroachment. The 5-yard penalty gave Pittsburgh a first down at the 6-yard line. A touchdown happened two plays later for a 17-3 lead.

Dareus claimed long snapper Greg Warren moved the ball.

“Every center, every long snapper has a little tweak to their game,” Dareus said. “He kind of moved the ball a little bit. I was anticipating it and just really wanted to get off the ball. That’s all it was.

“He got me on that one. I won’t whine to refs or anything like that. It’s just kind of part of the game. I was just telling the other guys, ‘I promise I’m going to make it up.’ ”


Jerry Hughes was considered a bust for the Indianapolis Colts. He has been productive for the Bills, having been acquired in an offseason trade for linebacker Kelvin Sheppard.

Hughes has more than doubled his career sack total this year. He recorded two more Sunday, giving him six this season and 11 since he entered the NFL as the 31st overall draft choice in 2010.

Hughes also has 31 tackles, two tackles for losses and two forced fumbles.

Sheppard has 18 tackles and one sack for the Colts. The Bills drafted him in the third round in 2011.


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