Graham and Johnson hitting more than the books

GatorCountry.com
Posted Aug 30, 2004


Some of the finest hits on the Gators practice field two years ago occurred between Earnest Graham and Todd Johnson. It is the same fire which earned the Black and Blue division its reputation. Is it any wonder that the pair would end up in the division? That intensity helped keep them from making a splash during their rookie seasons. (Pictured: Todd Johnson as he forces Boo Williams to fumble.)

Both were injured during the pre-season, Earnest Graham with a broken shoulder and Todd Johnson with a broken jaw. Based on their Friday night performances, Graham and Johnson have taken giant strides toward securing roster spots.

Graham overcame migraine headaches on Wednesday and lit the Dolphin defense up for 52 yards on 11 carries and scored the game's only rushing touchdown. “I feel fine It was a couple of days, Wednesday and Thursday, that I got migraine headaches real bad. I shut down for a day and a half, two days, and by Friday I was alright. I was ready to go,” he said.

In fact, Graham has scored all of the Buccaneers rushing touchdowns this exhibition season. He broke through the Miami defense for a 36 yard blast down the right sideline, where he broke four tackles. The Dolphins tacklers looked as though they had hooks in their mouths as Graham dusted them to the turf on the play. It is the longest run by Buccaneer back this pre-season. “I just go out and try to make plays and put together a good resume, and hopefully that is good enough to make this squad," said Graham.

Johnson took the place of the injured Bobby Gray as the Bears safety. The former Sarasota Riverview star recorded five solo stops and forced a fumble, something that he had a reputation for at Florida. "It felt good to get out there and feel comfortable" Johnson told me Sunday night. "I haven't had contact in a year, so it was nice to realize that you can still do it" the Bears safety said regarding getting back into the exhibition season. Johnson has impressed Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith with his intelligent and physical style of play.


Todd Johnson as he forces Boo Williams to fumble.

With limited reps because of their injuries last exhibition season these guys are learning and having some fun while doing it. They're taking their studies to the field. Yes, I know the Bucs have been moved to the NFC South, but they're still a Black & Blue club. And based on the performances of Earnest and T-Lo Friday night, Black & Blue seemingly suits them just fine.


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