Brady get couldn't the ball into Johnson's hands, and Johnson's legs couldn't carry his hands where they needed to be. Fast forward a year and things still feel forced and awkward for No. 85, only Brandon Lloyd is now wearing those digits for the Patriots.
Lloyd has just one reception -- a 12-yard gain earned Friday night against Tampa Bay -- on four targets, and he has spent the rest of his time alternating between flailing about and appearing frustrated. The sight has been eerily familiar to how Johnson performed last preseason.
The difference, though, is that Brady and Lloyd put on a show during training camp worthy of the standing-room-only crowds that routinely came out to watch them work. That was never the case with Johnson.
So it stands to reason that Brady and Lloyd will get there once they finish feeling each other out. It just may take some time.
Here's a look at some other winners and losers from Friday night's 30-28 loss against Tampa Bay:
CB Marquice Cole: The former New York Jet may have won a job Friday night. Locked in a battle with Will Allen for the fifth cornerback spot, Cole was strong defending the slot and routinely put himself in position to make plays. He also had a nice open-field tackle while serving on the punt unit.
RB Stevan Ridley: Ridley failed to pick up a blitz, but he did enough with the ball in his hands to atone for the mistake. After Shane Vereen suffered a foot injury early in the game, Ridley was pushed into extended action and rushed 16 times for 87 yards. He carried the Patriots on their first scoring drive, accounting for 43 of the 81 yards needed to reach the end zone. The top job appears to be his.
OL Marcus Cannon: The struggles Cannon has endured while filling in at right tackle for Sebastian Vollmer were exemplified in the strip-sack he surrendered to Bucs DE Michael Bennett during the first quarter of Friday's game. If Vollmer, who is fighting his way back from a back injury that landed him on PUP at the start of camp, isn't ready to go by the season opener, New England may have a real problem.
Pass coverage: Even with Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman struggling with accuracy, the New England pass defense looked suspect. Vincent Jackson picked up 49 yards against weak zone coverage on Tampa's opening drive, and Freeman (10 of 19, 102 yards) and backup Dan Orlovsky (6 of 7, 53 yards) were largely able to move the ball without resistance. Was it the result of not having safety Patrick Chung (shoulder) and playing vanilla on defense? Or do the problems that made this pass defense one of the worst in league history still remain?