There's been a flash from the past for young tight end Juwan Johnson as he prepares for the 2023 season with another new quarterback under center.
After spending some time with Derek Carr during offseason activities, Johnson is seeing a resemblance to his first QB, Drew Brees.
"It honestly felt like we've been working with Derek for quite a while now and so OTAs was really good, really smooth," Johnson told SiriusXM NFL Radio. "He's giving me more of a feel because he's an older guy. He's giving me a lot of Drew. Going into the huddle, commanding the huddle. The guys gravitating to him. These are things I've seen how Drew conducted the huddle. How Drew conducted the offense and things like that, so it gives me similar feels and so I'm really excited about what Derek has and how he's going to move this offense."
Johnson's rookie season coincided with Brees' last season, as he retired in 2021. However, even with only getting a small taste of what Brees was like, he is already envisioning a similar offense with the addition of Carr's knowledge.
"I feel like with Derek, there's a lot of things that you can do," said Johnson, who has played with six starting quarterbacks since the start of his Saints career. "He's been in an offense where he's had Josh McDaniels and Jon Gruden, so he has a lot of that he can bring over to our offense. Obviously, we have a lot of pieces on our offense which I think he's probably never had before. I feel like that's something he can use a little bit."
In 2022, Johnson established himself with 42 receptions for 508 yards and seven touchdowns. He proved he could be a dependable option for any QB, particularly in the end zone. Not only is Johnson showing improvement, but he is learning from offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., who is going into his 15th season as OC and spent 12 years with coach Sean Payton and 11 with Brees. Johnson sees how the Saints and Carmichael Jr. can use the parallels of the two quarterbacks to his advantage.
"So, a big credit to Pete," Johnson said. "I mean, Pete's been working his tail off this offseason. We got some stuff in there, I'm like, 'Pete, I've never seen this before, but I like it.' So, I'm really excited for Pete going into Year 2. He's been behind Sean for so long. He's learned a lot and he's ready to blow up now."
With everything seemingly pointing in the right direction, training camp is knocking on the door. Before you know it, it'll be time to see if Carr and the Saints are as prepared as Johnson says.