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Johnson scores in WR competition


It was only a meaningless, no-pads, pre-camp moment, but it was symbolic of what Patrick Johnson will be expected to do this season.

Johnson beat cornerback Fernando Bryant in a sideline foot race, then pulled in Mark Brunell's long, arcing pass. Had it been a game, it was a play that would've been worth six points, the equal of Johnson's output for the Baltimore Ravens last year.

"Those are the plays we didn't do up there. It's my best asset. It's the one thing I can do; score on one play," Johnson said of catching the deep ball, which it's expected he will be asked to do quite often for the Jaguars this season.

Johnson, signed inexpensively as a free agent this offseason, is the Jaguars' speediest receiver. He will be expected to be the team's deep threat and the player who will balance the defense's coverage schemes so Jimmy Smith isn't consistently facing double coverage.

Meanwhile, Bobby Shaw was signed away from Pittsburgh, where Shaw had established a sound reputation as a possession receiver. So it'll be in this summer's Jaguars training camp that "Mr. Deep" (Johnson) and "Mr. Short" (Shaw) will battle for the number two wide receiver position.

Do reputations and each player's expected role put Johnson at an immediate disadvantage? After all, the immediate perception is that Shaw will catch more passes.

"That's just perception. We'll see how it goes. Who knows how it's going to turn out. I'm going to make a ton of big plays. I don't need to have the ball a lot. There are a lot of ways to help the team. Stretching the field is a big thing," Johnson said.

Johnson, the Ravens' second-round pick from Oregon in 1998, failed in his first pro test. In four seasons, he caught just 58 passes for 898 yards and seven touchdowns. Of course, the Ravens struggled at the quarterback position during Johnson's years in Baltimore.

"That was one thing that led me here," Johnson said of the lure of Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell. "With the history he has of throwing the football, it outweighed all of the other opportunities I had.

"I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. I just want to make plays and (Brunell) will come to me with the ball," Johnson added.

First, he'll have to win the battle against Shaw, which will be one of the feature attractions of training camp. It'll be a "fast feet vs. soft hands" confrontation.

"Obviously, we're going to fight it out and see who the starter is," Johnson said.

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