ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Stevie Johnson runs down the list of Buffalo's former star receivers as easily as reciting the alphabet: From Lee Evans to James Lofton, Eric Moulds and Andre Reed, and going so far as to even mention Don Beebe.
What Johnson finds incredible is that for all their star-power and numbers, none of them ever had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in Buffalo.
"I can't believe it," he said, shaking his head Thursday.
Improbable as it might seem, Johnson might be the first in the franchise's 52-year history do it Sunday, when Buffalo (6-9) closes its season at New England (12-3).
He enters the game with 964 yards receiving, having the chance to make a lasting impression in what could well be Johnson's final game in a Bills uniform.
"I can't even try to downplay it because that's a pretty big deal, especially with the guys who have been here," Johnson said. "It's crazy that this guy, Steve Johnson, could possibly be the first."
Whether he'll have a chance to make it three seasons in a row remains a question, because Johnson is completing the final year of his contract. He would prefer to re-sign with Buffalo, but it's unclear whether that will happen after talks broke down a month ago when the receiver rejected the team's latest offer.
That leaves him already bracing for the possibility of playing elsewhere next season.
"Since last week playing at The Ralph, I've thought about it," Johnson said, referring to the Bills closing their home schedule with a 40-14 win over Denver. "Walking on the field, walking off the field, just looking around and looking at the crowd was kind of crazy because it seemed like four years went by pretty fast."
Johnson is leading the team with 72 catches, three shy of joining Moulds as the only other Bills receiver to have 75 in consecutive seasons.
Johnson could've been far closer to 1,000 yards — and maybe even surpassed that number — if not for two critical drops in a 28-24 loss to the Jets in November. One pass glanced off his hands while he was open over the middle at the Jets 20-yard line in the final minute.
As for 1,000-yard seasons, Reed and Moulds had four each with Buffalo, but never in succession. Moulds came the closest, breaking 1,000 yards in both 1998 and 2000, but falling just short with 994 yards in 1999.
Johnson, Buffalo's 2008 seventh-round draft pick, has gone from being one of the Bills' so-called "No-Namers," to their top receiving threat. He's tied for the team lead with six touchdowns, and is continuing to produce despite playing much of the season with a sore hand, groin and shoulder.
Johnson is also showing he's capable of being a No. 1 receiver, which was one of the challenges he faced before the season began.
There were concerns whether Johnson's numbers a year ago were a fluke, after he had a breakout season with a team-leading 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. There were also questions of how Johnson's production would be affected after the Bills traded Evans, their most proven threat, to Baltimore in August.
"I started thinking about that, being without my guy Lee, with the injuries, people saying, 'Oh, this is his year as a No. 1 receiver,'" Johnson said. "But this year, there were no individual goals. It was just the playoffs. I was thinking of playoffs from training camp."
After a 5-2 start, the Bills shot at the postseason ended with a seven-game skid, leaving Johnson focusing on his future.
Johnson can't see why the Bills would let him become a free agent, especially after he and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick developed chemistry over the past two seasons.
"With Fitz signing his deal, you would think they would have a one-two punch," Johnson said, referring to Fitzpatrick signing a six-year, $59 million contract extension in October. "You would think they'll keep us together."
Fitzpatrick would prefer that Johnson stays, while noting that's something out of his control.
As for helping Johnson reach 1,000 yards, Fitzpatrick isn't making any promises.
"It would be great for him to get it," Fitzpatrick said. "But it's not really something you go in and say, 'OK, we're going to get Stevie his 1,000 and then start playing the game.' That's not how it works. We hope just going out there and playing he gets it."
Whether or not Johnson hits 1,000, the receiver is maintaining his perspective.
He'll have to prove himself again next season, with whatever team that might be.
And it doesn't discount how good the Bills' former receivers were.
"Those dudes were great," Johnson said. "It's all just numbers. But to get it, that would still be history on its own just to say you've done it."