Johnson a bigger target
By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 3, 2002
TAMPA -- It was Vikings coach Mike Tice who concocted the Randy Ratio, a formula that predetermines receiver Randy Moss will have at least 40 percent of passes aimed his direction.
In the spirit of today's game with Minnesota, Bucs coach Jon Gruden might consider the Keyshawn Quotient.
It took the Bucs more than 59 minutes last weekend at Carolina to find Keyshawn Johnson. He is on a pace to catch 64 passes, the fewest since his rookie season.
With receivers Keenan McCardell (fractured shoulder blade) and Joe Jurevicius (ankle sprain) expected to miss today's game, the Bucs will try to ride Johnson.
"We've got to do a better job structurally to try and get him some touches earlier in football games," Gruden said. "He's not the Lone Ranger, but he's a guy we need to get going quicker."
That will be difficult. Without McCardell or Jurevicius, Johnson will draw defenders. Last week, he rankled some teammates by suggesting that always has been the case.
"I've been in that position before. I always feel like it's me and only me. I don't worry about that," Johnson said.
"I really don't like it. I really was hoping to be freed up more than I am now. It just hasn't happened."
That doesn't reflect well on McCardell, who has missed one game. And Johnson still has to find ways to get open and make difficult catches, like the one he failed to put away in the end zone at Philadelphia.
"You see what happened on Sunday against Carolina when they tried to force it to me. It got intercepted," Johnson said. "He was trying to get me the ball. But I've got three dudes around me and it's kind of hard. I look at that as respect. I don't look at it as disrespect to our offense.
"Not once have you ever heard me complaining in any fashion about not getting the football when my team is winning. When we're above .500, you've never heard Keyshawn Johnson say, "I'm not getting the football! This is a damn shame! What's going on?'
"From a Carolina standpoint, I didn't catch a ball until there were 50-something seconds left in the game to help put us in a position to kick a field goal. That's all I'm asked, when my number is called, to deliver."
As for his numbers?
"I'll take the numbers I've got, add them up at the end of the year, take a 13-3 or 12-4 record and a homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and be as happy as pie," Johnson said, "rather than take the numbers some of these other guys are going to wind up with sitting at home eating potato chips and popcorn and watch me playing on Saturday afternoon in January."
* * *
WAITING GAME: The Bucs think Anthony McFarland might recover from a broken right forearm in five weeks instead of the six to eight originally expected.
That would mean, with the bye week, he would miss four games, giving him a chance to play Dec. 8 game against Atlanta.
Chartric Darby and Buck Gurley are capable of holding down the middle with Warren Sapp. "The Chuck and Buck show," Sapp calls it.
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