Johnson likely won't play Sunday

Updated: November 13, 2003, 6:20 PM ET
Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Newly signed Jaguars receiver Kevin Johnson missed practice while he got his physical Thursday, making it "unlikely'' he will play Sunday against the Titans, coach Jack Del Rio said.

Nevertheless, the Jaguars were happy to have him and, based on some of his comments as he was leaving Cleveland, Johnson was glad to be leaving the Browns.

"I'm getting on a plane and never looking back," he told reporters in Cleveland on Wednesday, the day after he was surprisingly cut by the Browns.

The Jaguars didn't make Johnson available for interviews Thursday, but Del Rio said he met with him briefly.

"I encouraged him that the sooner he puts that behind him and starts focusing on being a Jaguar, the better," Del Rio said.

Clearly, though, there is bitterness. Johnson was the team's leading receiver this season (41 catches, 381 yards), when coach Butch Davis benched him last week, then subsequently cut him.

Johnson explained to reporters in Cleveland that he felt Browns quarterback Kelly Holcomb and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had it in for him and hastened his departure.

"Obviously, Bruce and myself never had a great relationship, and Kelly's his guy," Johnson said. "I've been fighting that battle for three years -- and he's won."

Davis accused Johnson of being selfish and giving less than full effort. Browns president Carmen Policy said Johnson's reaction to being benched gave him a "bad vibe." So bad, in fact, that the Browns were willing to dismiss someone to whom they had committed $3.5 million in a signing bonus before the 2002 season.

But if there's a stigma attached to Johnson, few other NFL teams were too worried about it. No fewer than 16 teams reportedly put waivers claims in for the receiver. The Jaguars got him because they had the worst record of the teams.

Del Rio said he knows several people inside the Browns organization, and all of them encouraged the Jaguars to sign the fifth-year veteran.

"They just felt he needed a fresh start and he'd be a good guy for us," Del Rio said.

Jaguars receiver Jimmy Smith was happy about the signing.

Smith has had trouble getting open since the Jaguars parted with Keenan McCardell after the 2001 season. Smith (26 receptions) and Troy Edwards (20) are the two most productive receivers on the team, each despite missing all of September.

"He's a playmaker and every team can always use another playmaker," Smith said of Johnson. "He's a hot commodity right now, so I'm glad he's here."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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