Johnson: Ready for a return

Published: Friday, January 3, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 3, 2003 at 12:42 a.m.

TAMPA - Brad Johnson says it's over. No, not his season. The story about his bruised back that's kept him out of the last two games. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting quarterback returned to practice Wednesday, said he felt no pain and declared that after Wednesday, his back would no longer be news.

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Quarterback Brad Johnson first suffered the back injury in the final minutes of the Buccaneers' 23-20 win at Detroit on Dec. 15.

The Associated Press

Both he and Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden also said Brad Johnson will be the starting quarterback for the Buccaneers' NFC Divisional Playoff Game next weekend at Raymond James Stadium.

''Brad Johnson took every snap and was very sharp,'' Gruden said after Wednesday's practice. ''He'll be our starting quarterback whenever we play next week.''

And that, added Johnson, should close the book on his back.

''There should never be another question about this injury,'' Johnson said after Wednesday's practice. ''After (today), whatever you write, there should be nothing after that.

''The story is over. I'm moving great. I feel great. I'm not worried about any hits. I'm not worried about anything.

''The only thing I'm worrying about is (today's) practice and getting better, then finding out who we play (next weekend) and getting ready for practice Monday,'' Johnson said.

Gruden said he saw nothing from Johnson in Wednesday's practice to make him think Johnson was still having any trouble with his back.

''He looked like he had no effects whatsoever,'' Gruden said. ''He made some nice moves to his left and right, he pushed up in the hole, he threw some intermediate cuts, threw some outside routes. He really showed no ill effects whatsoever.''

Johnson suffered the back injury in the final minutes of the Buccaneers' 23-20 win at Detroit on Dec. 15.

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