View Full Version : Interview with LJ

01-02-2006, 10:26 AM
This might be a repeat, from PFW.com


Larry Johnson is a lot of things. Talented, tough, controversial and eager to prove himself are just a few descriptive options that would work.

A bit miffed about sitting the bench for the majority of his first two-and-a-half years in the league, the former first-round pick has taken out his frustrations on the rest of the league in 2005.

In his eight starts since replacing the injured Priest Holmes, Johnson has run roughshod over the oppostion, churning out 1,150 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He has added 29 catches for 463 yards and three scores as a receiver.

With the Chiefs preparing to host the Bengals and hanging on the edge of the playoff picture, Johnson sat down with PFW to discuss running with an attitude, a disdain for some of the media's criticisms and the need to be "the guy" next season.

PFW: It was a tough first couple of years for you in the league, having to watch and wait as a first-round pick. What has it been like for you to get this opportunity and to finally make a name for yourself?

Johnson: Iím overly excited to be a part of something like this, especially in the last half of the season. Everybodyís rallied around me, but it has been difficult the first couple years. But I worked through it, and on top of that, being successful, I think it puts a lot of things for me in perspective.

PFW: Your offensive linemen say you run angry, run with an attitude. Can you describe your running style?

Johnson: Itís just running. Thatís all it is for me. Anybody can run, but if you put enough emotion behind it, it can alter the way you run, the way you break tackles and stuff like that. With my situation since Iíve been here ó I mean, it hasnít been an easy one, so itís the time for me to vent. And the best way to (vent) is to put the ball in my hands and just get with it.

PFW: I know that Coach Vermeil has mentioned it, as have scouts, but have you noticed yourself displaying more patience as a runner?

Johnson: Yeah, a lot of that has to do with staying in there and playing a lot longer than every third series. As Iíve played more and more and run each play, I can see whoís going to be where, I know what the linebackers are going to do, I know what the defensive backs are going to do, I know how the defensive linemen are going to play. And after awhile, it comes natural. And thatís all during the course of the game, with me getting warmed up, and with the 25th or 26th carry, I know how everything is going to end up and can kind of predict whatís going to happen on each and every one.

PFW: Youíre averaging almost 30 carries since taking over for Priest Holmes, but can you envision doing that for 16 games?

Johnson: Yeah, I can envision doing it for 16 games. It comes natural. It comes easy to me. I donít really realize how many carries I get because Iím so wrapped up in having fun in the game. Iím never like, ĎMan, this is 28 carries, Iím getting tired.í I never look at it that way. I just play, and whenever the ballís in my hand, I just run, regardless of what carry Iím on.

PFW: Does it feel like youíre in the trainerís room more now? Do you feel it on Mondays or Tuesdays more, or are you still just going on adrenaline?

Johnson: Itís all adrenaline. After those first couple games I had to work my body into it because it had never felt that much before. Coming off five carries and jumping right into 36 carries, it wore my body a little bit. But after that, people would ask me, and Iíd tell them Iím fine. I get up and go do things, and very rarely do I get stiff or sore.

PFW: It all starts with OT Willie Roaf on the left side, but can you talk about that offensive line you have in front of you?

Johnson: Itís more than (any one person). Itís Willie Roaf and Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann, Will Shields and John Welbourn. They have done such an awesome job. And John Welbourn doesnít even play tackle. He plays guard. But he has been absolutely outstanding in the times we have run over there. Everybody as a whole works so well together.

PFW: The word ďmaturityĒ gets tossed around a bit much in my mind in regard to describing NFL players, but can you compare where you are as a person right now as opposed to your rookie year?

Johnson: I would say Iím basically the same. I just do things differently. Iím basically the same person. I donít think maturity has anything to do with handling a situation. Anybody who would be placed in my situation who wants to play and has reasons to want to play, should be able to play, and that doesnít always work out. And very rarely do you have someone drafted in my position go in and play, not even as a backup, but play third-string. Itís kind of hard to see, and of course Iím going to get frustrated by it just like everybody else who goes into a job, knowing they can do it better than everybody else but donít get that chance. When I got my chance, I was still the same person in the last five games last season. And when I got my chance this season to ride it out, I basically was the same person Iíve always been.

PFW: I know you have that rift with the local media in Kansas City. Do you think that youíre misunderstood? Do people maybe not understand who you are, or is that even important to you?

Johnson: Itís not important, but itís not about misunderstanding. This is not like Iím talking to a bunch of children, but sometimes thatís how they act. Iím trying to get them to come full circle (to see) how serious I am about the game of football and how, when they critique me, and I see it as unfair critiquing of me and what I do on the field, I take it personally. I feel like theyíre taking shots at only me. So I take it personally when I go out there on the football field. I make sure Iím not just running against defenses. Iím running against everybody that's said, ĎLarry canít do this, or Penn State backs canít do that.í Thatís what I run against.

PFW: The rushing numbers are so gaudy that people donít see your contributions as a receiver. Do you see yourself improving in that part of the game?

Johnson: Definitely. Itís been a big, big improvement as far as me getting out in pass routes and being there for Trent (Green). Obviously, I have no choice. I canít say that Iím just going to fade and block and let that be that. Sometimes when Trent doesnít have anybody down the field, he has to have a dump-off so he doesnít take the sack. Iím usually in the right place and maybe at the right time, and itís all about running. I can catch a little five-yard pass and maybe turn it into a 40- or 50-yard pass play. Rather than just running the ball, itís one of the other things I can do to help out this football team.

PFW: What is your relationship like with Priest Holmes, or is there one?

Johnson: Itís kind of like the old lion, young lion type thing. Itís like weíre from different kingdoms or something like that. We just donít mesh as far as really talking or hanging out. The guy who meshes with me in the backfield is (fullback) Tony Richardson. Heís like a big brother to me on and off the field. Heís been a big key to my success with the Kansas City Chiefs because when I was going through my aches and pains, heís always been there for me. Priest has always been a quiet guy, so we didnít really mesh well as far as our personalities. Ö Heís an older guy, Iím a younger guy. Heís got kids, I donít have kids. Itís just different.

PFW: What kind of sense do you get from Coach Vermeil in terms of his future in coaching?

Johnson: Itís hard to say. Especially when heís an emotional guy, and everything he does is off emotion. One day he might say heíll quit and then in two weeks heíll say heís going to come back. Itís just hard to tell. But regardless of if he stays or if they bring in somebody new, hopefully that relationship can start off (with a clean slate).

PFW: A lot was made early on about some of Vermeilís criticisms of you and the fact you werenít playing much because he wanted to see certain things from you first. Has your relationship with him grown at all, or has it evened off to where it just is what it is?

Johnson: Evened off. Heís a veteranís coach, and thatís just the way it is. Itís not just with me, itís with a lot of younger players. Heís just a little more into the older players because he feels like he relates to them a little bit more. So some of the younger guys are kind of left out in the cold. Not as far as relationship-wise, though, because ours has been fine. There havenít any ruffles or anything like that for me to think otherwise.

PFW: I know youíve got a big game and the playoffs potentially to think about, but what would be a perfect scenario for you next year? Have you begun to think what kind of situation would make you content?

Johnson: Man, I donít want to come off as arrogant or cocky, but as far as what Iím doing right now, I feel that I should go into the season as the starter. Iím still going strong, so it would make sense for me to go in and be the starter and Priest be the backup. But who knows? It all depends on what the organization and what the head coach feels. And whatever they say is the way itís going to have to be.

PFW: Would you be happy in Kansas City if it came down to where you flip-flop the rotation the team started out with this year, where you get two series and then Priest gets one?

Johnson: Nah, I think Iíve kind of outgrown that rotation thing. I think I can basically be more successful the longer Iím on the field and running the ball.

01-02-2006, 10:40 AM
Johnson: Evened off. Heís a veteranís coach, and thatís just the way it is. Itís not just with me, itís with a lot of younger players. Heís just a little more into the older players because he feels like he relates to them a little bit more. So some of the younger guys are kind of left out in the cold. Not as far as relationship-wise, though, because ours has been fine. There havenít any ruffles or anything like that for me to think otherwise.

If there's one thing that's frustrated me about DV, this is it. He's such a system guy that he won't trust our young guns to come in and make an immediate impact, especially on offense. I know that our system is complicated, but I would have liked to see what some of our younger WRs could have done this year. I've always felt that with DV even if we picked up a young stud in the draft, he wouldn't get a chance to make a true impact right away but would be forced to work his way into the lineup.