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Count Alex's Losses
11-08-2005, 02:51 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/football/nfl/kansas_city_chiefs/13108456.htm

LARRY’S THE GUY FOR NOW

Johnson carrying the load

By ADAM TEICHER

The Kansas City Star

Larry Johnson was hardly a stranger to the Chiefs, but he needed to be reintroduced to them as their lone featured back.

After Johnson helped deliver a 27-23 win over Oakland in the Chiefs’ first game this season without Priest Holmes, it’s no surprise that they liked what they saw.

“Larry is what I like to call an angry runner,” tackle Jordan Black said. “He’s a big guy. We have confidence in him.

“He has a chip on his shoulder. Every football player should play that way. It’s just really obvious that he has a desire to get first downs and he has a desire to run over people, and he just really wants to show what kind of back he is.”

Johnson may continue as the Chiefs’ lone featured back for Sunday’s game in Buffalo. Holmes was scheduled to get a third opinion today in Miami for what coach Dick Vermeil said was a medical condition.

“I don’t know if there is an injury per se,” Vermeil said.

The Chiefs haven’t specified the exact nature of Holmes’ condition, but he went to Los Angeles last week for an exam with noted spinal specialist Robert Watkins.

Holmes suffered a shoulder injury in September at Oakland and a head injury last week at San Diego. But Vermeil said he believed Holmes might play against the Bills.

“Personally, I think Priest will be back, but I’m not the doctor giving that opinion,” Vermeil said on Monday. “He’s going to a different doctor for an exam. He flies today, he’s there tomorrow and then he’s back. The doctors want to be very thorough of the situation. What I believe is going to happen is that they will say he’s free to play.”

Johnson reminded the Chiefs on Sunday that they can survive without Holmes, their offensive engine for most of the last four seasons. Johnson rushed 22 times for 107 yards against the Raiders and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner from 1 yard on the final play.

He also caught three passes for 48 yards, including the 36-yard catch-and-run that set up his winning score.

It may be just coincidence, but the Chiefs’ running game was as consistent as it’s been this season in its first time with one featured back. The Chiefs have done better than the 114 yards they gained against Oakland, but they were never as consistent.

Johnson had no prolonged unproductive spells. His biggest gain was 15 yards, so the total wasn’t inflated by one or two long runs.

“There’s something to be said for letting guys get into a rhythm,” tackle John Welbourn said.

Vermeil wasn’t as certain that the consistency stemmed from the one-back system, but he was pleased with the results.

“We called the same plays as if we’d had them both,” Vermeil said. “The first few times he touched the ball he was in rhythm right away. The first time he touched the ball, he went 4 yards on a draw. Then the next time, 13 yards, then the next time, 9 yards. So much for needing time to get into a rhythm.

“He’s so powerful. Sometimes he doesn’t make ’em miss like Priest might make a drastic miss. But he’ll bounce off guys and make some extra yards that way.”

Vermeil indicated the halfbacks would resume their rotation of two series for Holmes and one for Johnson if Holmes returns against Buffalo.

“We like the two-back combination,” guard Brian Waters said. “Throughout the game it keeps guys fresher, and it’s a different adjustment for their defense. They’ve got to adjust to different running styles.

“But Larry showed us last year he can be the featured back in this offense. He’s had breakout games. We realize all we had to do was our job and he would take care of the rest. He was going to run strong. He’s got young, fresh legs, and he’s got a big body.”

That was evident in the fourth quarter. Johnson appeared as fresh as when the game started and was the key player on both Chiefs touchdown drives.

“Our offense has been searching for an identity,” Black said. “We had an opportunity to find our groove, and maybe we found the things we’re really good at.”

■ INJURY UPDATE: Vermeil said he believed injured cornerbacks Eric Warfield (hip pointer), Patrick Surtain (knee) and Dexter McCleon (groin) would play Sunday. Only Warfield was available against Oakland.

Vermeil was less optimistic about tackle Willie Roaf, who has a hamstring tear, and wide receiver Samie Parker (knee).

Count Alex's Losses
11-08-2005, 02:54 AM
Vermeil indicated the halfbacks would resume their rotation of two series for Holmes and one for Johnson if Holmes returns against Buffalo.

:shake: :banghead:

ExtremeChief
11-08-2005, 03:55 AM
:shake: :banghead:


Headline doesn't really match the story.