By Tim Graham
For the first time in voluntary offseason workouts, Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson was on the field. He had been forced to watch previous practices because of a lower back injury.
"It definitely feels good to just be out there on the field, even through the little pains I have," Johnson said.
"It's getting better every week. They gave me a six- to eight-week thing to even get on the field, and it's only been about three, so I feel good."
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was delighted to see him running routes in individual drills.
"It was great to see him," Hackett said. "He looks great in a uni. It was great to see him run some routes instead of being on the side. We've just got to work him back in."
Johnson is one of only 13 Bills with at least six years of NFL experience who've reported for workouts -- defensive tackle Alan Branch and linebacker Manny Lawson have yet to -- but with a first-year NFL head coach, a 33-year-old offensive coordinator and a new quarterback, Johnson needs the reps.
Having a three-time 1,000-yard receiver on the practice field also helps Buffalo's young receivers witness what it takes to excel in the NFL.
"The good thing is Stevie's done a great job being out there and supporting everybody because he's obviously had to have some growing pains in the new system," Hackett said. "So he's been able to really get a lot of mental reps, and I think being out there, helping those guys has been critical for all of them.
"His presence has been out there the whole time. It's just nice to see him in a helmet."
taggedNathaniel Hackett | Stevie Johnson