Although they lost 19-13 to Jacksonville, Josh Johnson gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the reassurance they sought with starting quarterback Josh Freeman sidelined by a broken thumb.
Filling in for Freeman, who the Bucs expect to return in time for their regular season opener, Johnson completed 9 of 14 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown to build a 13-6 lead before leaving the game in the third quarter. He also threw a 2-yard TD pass to running back Earnest Graham.
The third-year pro started four games last season, going 0-4 but showing enough progress that Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris insists he’s comfortable with the idea of the 24-year-old leading the offense in the opener if Freeman doesn’t recover as quickly as expected.
The Bucs lost backup safety Sabby Piscitelli to a mild concussion in the fourth quarter.