All the Bills were calling Taron Johnson a “dog” on Wednesday.
Sean McDermott was quick to point out that’s meant in a good way. Being a “dog” means being fearless. Johnson has been that in spades, especially against the run.
It’s clear the Bills like having a “dog” on their defense.
“He is just willing to hit whoever and whenever,” Micah Hyde said. “He’s one of those guys you want to take into a dark alley with you because no matter who it is–it could be a giant–he’s gonna try and wreak havoc. That’s why I love playing with him.”
As you might imagine, hearing that kind of comment from a veteran made the rookie’s day. Johnson says he loves having experienced, successful players like Hyde, Jordan Poyer and Tre White in the secondary with him. His hope is to, someday, play at their level.
“My whole goal is to get respect from veterans and make sure they trust me,” Johnson said.
Listed at 5-11 and 192 pounds, size was a knock on Johnson during the draft.
It hasn’t been a problem so far.
“You feel him out there. For a young player to have made that type of presence from that nickel position is huge for our defense,” McDermott said. “He wants it and I’ve been very pleased with his progress to this point.”
”I just have the mentality that I want to play fearless,” Johnson said. “I pray before the game and that’s something God has given me. Just be fearless out there just so I can help my team and be the best player I possibly can be.”
Not only is Johnson impressing quickly, he’s doing it at the most difficult position to play on the Bills defense: nickel corner. It’s part corner, part safety and part linebacker. Johnson says he has to be aware of the responsibilities at all three positions.
“You’re in the run fit and you’re a corner, too,” Johnson says. “You’re guarding receivers. You’re guarding tight ends. That’s definitely something that makes it tough, all the different things you need to know.”
Poyer says because of the need to read and react quickly, confidence is a must at nickel corner. He’s seen that already in Johnson.
“I love watching his tape and watching him play. He’s making tackles in the B-gap on big, freaking running backs and with a hurt shoulder,” Poyer said. “I tell him every day he’s a dog. He needs to act like it. He needs to walk like it. He needs to talk like it because he can play ball.”
Being a “dog” might be the best thing a rookie can be.