ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Last year Bills defensive end Darryl Johnson was a nice surprise during training camp and really flashed during the preseason season to earn a roster spot after they drafted him in the seventh-round and now he’s looking to take his game to the next level heading into year two.
“I just want to grow a lot as a player on and off the field. Coach Leslie [Frazier] always tells me we need you to stay consistent and grow every day and that’s what I try to come out and do every day and learn from the older guys. We’ve got a great coach with Coach Eric Washington, he’s awesome. I feel like he’s gonna help us all together as a group to get better and elevate our games so I’m really looking forward to what’s to come,” Johnson told News 4 on a zoom call.
Johnson certainly has raw talent that still needs work but his athleticism, size and youth all factor in to why he earned a spot once again. And when I asked him how much he’s grown since the start of his rookie season, he laughed and said “are you referring to my height, because I think I really have grown.”
He said he’s still learning how to use that “big body” of his but thinks he got a lot stronger this offseason.
“I think I’ve grown a lot since last year just with knowing everything that happens in the NFL and how it goes and stuff like that, you just gotta come out and make the best of every opportunity you get. That’s the part I think I realized about this league and everybody in this league can play so you just gotta try to figure out how can you separate yourself from everybody else?”
You do that by showing versatility, especially with this Bills coaching staff. That’s something they really value and Johnson does that with his contributions on special teams. He was a big part of their kickoff coverage unit and actually played the second most snaps on special teams last season.
“That’s very important to me. Special teams is where it all started for me in college and that’s how it is here so it’s very important. I go out every day with the intentions to get better on every rep and learn you know coach Heath [Farwell] is a great coach so he wants the best for me. He always tells me to come out early and do some extra work and stuff like that so I just listen to him and he expects a lot out of me so I just gotta go out there and do what I do,” Johnson explained.
Another coach that has really helped him a lot so far is defensive line coach Eric Washington.
“He’s so passionate, passionate about the game, every detail you know he’s on top of all of that and I think a lot of guys look up to that, being so detailed. I think that’s where a lot of people miss in the small details and that’s what he’s big on so I feel like a lot of guys feed off his energy,” Johnson said.
Along with bringing in Coach Washington this season, the Bills also added depth and veteran leadership on the defensive line. Johnson specifically has really gotten close to Mario Addison.
“He was an undrafted free agent and I’m a late-round guy so I just kind of ask questions, how he transformed into the player that he is today. I just keep asking him questions every day, like pull him to the side like “give me some knowledge” so it’s good to have guys like that on this team, it helps the young players grow and then before you know it we’ll be all be playing at the same speed,” Johnson said.
Johnson also says you can never be “too comfortable in this league” but that doesn’t stop him from making those close to him comfortable.
During the offseason Johnson surprised his mom with a new car.
“My mom, she means the world to me and I felt like that’s was my first priority when I got home was let me get my mom a car, she’s so special to me,” Johnson explained.
Johnson said his mom’s birthday is a few days after his so it was actually on his own birthday that he was out doing something nice for his mom.
“It was truly a blessing to be able to do something like that for your mom and I would love to keep having those moments and making her proud so that’s why I continue to do what I do.”