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Stevie Johnson reveals back injury was a slight fracture

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson catches a pass at Wednesday's minicamp session. (Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

By Tim Graham

Stevie Johnson offered up a Roy Munson handshake today after the Buffalo Bills' final mandatory minicamp session.

Johnson's rigid fingers were taped at the knuckles. He declined to clasp hands.

It has been a delicate offseason for the Bills' top wide receiver. He's recovering from a twisted left ankle and revealed for the first time his previous back injury wasn't merely a strain. He broke it.

Johnson told me this morning he fractured his L-5 vertebra in March while filming a workout session for

"It got to the point where, 'It's got to be something more than a strain or something' because every time I sit down it's hurting," Johnson said. "Every time I stand up it's hurting. I lay down, it's hurting. I went through rehab and it wasn't helping.

"So I got the MRI, and it was a slight fracture."

Johnson said he was given a cortisone shot and an epidural as part of his recovery.

Johnson's offseason workout approach came under fire when he told radio host Jim Rome his training consisted mostly of basketball and road work.

The Bills wanted to show fans that Johnson really does take training seriously by filming a session. Johnson said the back injury occurred while doing a power-rope exercise.

Then on the first day of voluntary workouts, Johnson twisted while making a catch during an individual drill. He spun clockwise, stepped awkwardly on a cone and hurt his left ankle.

"The back wasn't cleared up yet. I was just dealing with it," Johnson said. "Then I came back to see if I could get out there and wiggle with my back and ended up stepping on a cone."

Johnson has had a list of injuries over the years, particularly with his groin, but he hasn't missed a game since he became a regular contributor in 2010.

"I try not to miss a game," Johnson said. "You never know how long you'll be here.

"I don't want to be stupid about it. There probably was one game I was stupid about playing through an injury, and that was the Houston Texans game last year. I got kneed in my thigh on a slant early in the game, and it was bad. 

"But I love being out there, trying to make a difference."


Stevie Johnson
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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 |