Tampa Bay Buccaneers

George Johnson's Ready for Mariota

How does the defensive end plan on slowing down Tennessee's rookie quarterback?


Throughout the preseason, George Johnson, the Bucs' starting left defensive end, led the team in sacks. It shouldn't have been a surprise, though, as Johnson impressed throughout training camp. On Sunday, the defensive end will be tasked with hunting down rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, who Johnson admitted, has a unique skill set.

"You can't let him run a lot," Johnson said. "He's a fast guy. We looked at it on tape – he out-runs a lot of players. We just can't let him run a lot. If we can keep him in the pocket… it's an advantage to us when the quarterback is in the pocket. When they get to run around, that's a little bit of a disadvantage to us."

So how does Johnson plan on countering the speedy passer?

"I'm basically (going to be) doing what I can to keep him inside," Johnson said. There's really no getting wider (in your rushing lane) or anything like that. If you get wider, then you get away from what you really need to do. I'm not going to take away from what I'm good at. I'm just going to continue to adjust and adjust to what he does best."

Mariota was electric in college at the University of Oregon, helping his team to the BCS National Championship Game last season and earning the Heisman Trophy along the way. Despite his success, Johnson said he didn't study Mariota's college tape.

"You can look at college all you want but it's a different offense than he's running now," Johnson said.

Mariota has acclimated to that new offense well, Johnson said. The quarterback completed 21 of 30 passes for 325 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the preseason. He also ran with the ball five times, picking up an additional 17 yards.

"It's just a pro-style offense with an athletic quarterback," Johnson said. "A lot of teams like to keep their scheme. They don't really like to change much. But they do like to adjust to the player. He's actually adjusted to the offense really well – came in, jumped in, started doing what they were doing and adjusted his game to it."

The Bucs are set to host the Titans on Saturday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium for their first game of the 2015 regular season. Kickoff if scheduled for 4:25 p.m.

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