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James Lofton likes Stevie Johnson minus theatrics

By Tim Graham

CANTON, Ohio -- James Lofton is a fan of Stevie Johnson the football player.

Lofton's not so impressed with Johnson the end-zone jester.

I had a chance to catch up with Lofton at this weekend's Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities and asked for his thoughts on Johnson, the Buffalo Bills' top receiver.

"He's a good player," said Lofton, a 2003 Hall of Fame inductee who helped the Bills reach their first three Super Bowls. "You look for consistency from guys. He's an emotional leader for that team.

"I remember when I was coaching and scouting him in college. I liked him then, and he's done nothing but impress me since he's been with the Bills."

But Lofton, a former Oakland Raiders assistant coach who once was considered a head-coaching candidate, doesn't appreciate Johnson's antics.

"Everybody has a different opinion about that," Lofton said. "When I was coaching players, you want them to enjoy themselves, but you want them to act like they've been there.

"You obviously don't want them to cost you any yardage after you've scored because that's critical. I wouldn't want that if I were the head coach."

As for the Bills in 2012, Lofton said it was too soon to start developing opinions on how well they -- or any NFL team -- will perform. Lofton will handle radio commentary for tonight's Hall of Fame Game between the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals for Westwood One.

"I let the preseason mold my opinions of teams," Lofton said. "Everybody's optimistic this time of year. Preseason will tell things. You'll figure out who your quarterback is, who your offensive line is, where your pass rush will come from. That will tell whether you can win football games."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | [email protected]


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | [email protected]


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | [email protected]

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