By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
Football fans of every age gathered Friday evening to converse with Cleveland Browns linebacker James-Michael Johnson.
Johnson visited Giant Eagle during a publicity event to celebrate the recent completion of the store’s renovation project, store officials said. They said about 100 people attended the event.
Johnson is excited about the start of offseason practice and was glad to share his thoughts with fans who ranged in age from elementary school students to a man who played his first year of high school football in 1954.
“It’s going great,” Johnson said of the start of offseason work that began this week in Berea. “Everybody is really excited.”
Johnson said the transition to a new coaching staff, headed by first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski, has gone smoothly.
“This defense is a lot easier to learn than the last one,” he said of the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4
Johnson is entering his second year in the National Football League. He said the change from college to professional football was time management.
Johnson said the new offense appears to be a bit more complex than last year’s team.
One major event of the 2012 season did not surprise Johnson because he had a front row-seat for a lot of Colin Kapernik’s college magic as he played with him at the University of Nevado at Reno.
“I knew he would be a great quarterback,” he said of the rookie who took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl. “I saw him make the same plays.”
Mercedes Bankston, of Ashtabula, said it was great to have a Cleveland Brown visit Ashtabula. He got several autographed pictures for his children before discussing the status of the team.
He said the Browns only have one way to go and that is up.
“Championships are one on defense and that (Johnson) is one of the anchors on the defense so we should be just fine,” he said.