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Stevie Johnson loves idea of playing in slot, calls it 'easy money'

By Tim Graham

SJohnsonMug11A lot of times in the NFL, people get hung up on labels.

Who's an elite quarterback? Who's a franchise left tackle? Who's a shutdown cornerback?

Stevie Johnson considers himself a No. 1 receiver. But he doesn't view a move to the slot as any kind of demotion.

In fact, a grinning Johnson called it "easy money," a few hours after Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said he wanted to add a big outside target and move Johnson into the slot.

"To me," Johnson said, "the slot means you got access to go left, you got access to go right, you can work up the middle, you're not going to be pressed as much -- and we all know what I can do to people that press me.

"You'll be going against either the safeties or linebackers or the third cornerback. That's what I think about when I hear slot. It seems like easy money for me."

The Bills would like to have used Johnson in the slot this season to maximize certain matchups. But the season-ending knee injury to David Nelson on opening day and the slow development of rookie T.J. Graham forced the Bills to keep Johnson on the outside almost all the time.

Johnson clearly doesn't consider a move inside to be a downgrade to his standing on the team.

"It's taking advantage," Johnson said. "Not to sound overly confident in myself, but I don't think I can be handled outside. And now imagine me going against whoever I have to go against in the slot.

"I think it'll only help us out. I don't see it as a demotion when they talk about moving me anywhere. With the right mentality, I feel we're just trying to get better as a team. I don't put myself ahead of these guys."

As for adding help at receiver, Johnson is enthusiastic about the prospect.

"If we can get help at the receiver position, that'd be big for us," Johnson said. "We can move the ball. We have T.J., who's pretty much getting into form, going downfield. To add a bigger target, that'd be huge.

"Wherever I'll be, I know I'm going to work, and I'm going to do my thing inside or outside. I think it's only going to help our team out if we were going to do that."

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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 |

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 |

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 |