PDA

View Full Version : TEICHER-Chiefs running back the real deal


C-Mac
06-02-2007, 07:17 AM
Chiefs running back the real deal
No question Johnson looks solid at camp, but there are questions about his contract.
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star

Larry Johnson looked impressive during drills Friday at minicamp. It’s a long way until September, but Larry Johnson looked remarkably strong Friday at the opening practice of Chiefs minicamp for a guy coming off a record workload.

He busted loose through the defense at one point for a long run, drawing hollers from some defenders that suggested had the drill been live, one of them would have dragged Johnson down.

Their claims were halfhearted, though, as if they knew the truth was something else.

No, Johnson gave every indication Friday he is ready to have another big season. The bigger issue is whether Johnson will be around to play the season if he and the Chiefs can’t agree on a contract extension.

Johnson is headed into the final year of the rookie contract he signed in 2003. He initially had two more seasons remaining but is able to void them after reaching certain performance incentives.

Johnson has not told the Chiefs he will hold out from training camp if no deal is reached by the time they head to training camp in late July.

“He has given me no indication of that,” president/general manager Carl Peterson said. “He’s been very diligent in the workout program and the (practices). When he’s been away, he’s working out with his own fitness guy, and it shows. He’s working out like he plans to play the season.

“We’re still discussing proposals with them. I’m always optimistic that we’re going to get a deal done, but I’m not going to make any predictions. A contract extension is a high priority for us. We don’t want him to get into the last year of his contract.”

Privately, though, the Chiefs wonder because Johnson hasn’t told them he will play the season regardless. Perhaps fearful of what lies ahead, the Chiefs dangled Johnson in trade before the draft but couldn’t come to an agreement.

Johnson declined an interview request for this story. When he talked with Sirius radio earlier in the spring, Johnson said: “I won’t say anything has to get done. Obviously, a lot of things play into it. I have to look at my situation as it goes into June and July. I’ll have to sit back and make a decision. I’m not ready to make that decision yet. I think things will work out.”

His agent, Alvin Keels, said Friday that he was optimistic about the chances for a new deal but added: “We’re still far apart. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before we’ve got a deal.”

Asked whether Johnson would play without an extension, Keels said:

“We’ll have to cross that bridge once we get to it. We hope we don’t have to make that decision.”

An exploding player-salary market could leave Johnson in a strong bargaining position. He is scheduled to make about $1.9 million this year in base salary but wants the new deal now as protection in case of an injury.

“I know how fickle the NFL can be as far as age and contracts and running backs,” Johnson said in the radio interview. “I would be an idiot to think that I would be taken care of in the long run if I happen to get hurt next year. I obviously know the (contract) numbers could possibly drop. I wouldn’t get all I could get if I turn around and play another year. I could get the franchise tag. A lot of things play into it.

“One thing fans don’t really understand is that I don’t have a 9-to-5 job. I can’t work until I’m 45 in a tie and suit. I’ve got to get what I can get now to take care of not only my future family but my future family’s kids.”
The Chiefs have vowed not to abuse Johnson like last year, when he set an NFL record with 416 carries. They retained backup Michael Bennett and Derrick Ross, a rookie last season. They also added rookies Kolby Smith and Marcus O’Keith, and each is making an early push for playing time.

“We’ve got some other backs to take the load off him,” coach Herm Edwards said. “We’ve got five running backs. We won’t dress five of them, but we will dress three of them.

“What he went through last year was a good learning experience for him. He’s going to get the ball again this year. I’ve told him that. He just won’t get it as much as he did last year.”

The Chiefs had no intention this time last year of working Johnson as they did, but couldn’t help themselves in close games.

In the meantime, they appear delighted with his play during recent practices.

“He’s still running at full speed every play and every drill,” Bennett said. “With all the adversity and stuff that was going on in the offseason, to see him here participating and going 100 miles an hour and staying focused is great.

“He’s doing all the right things to continue to make himself a great pro.”

Historically, backs as busy as Johnson was haven’t bounced back well. Atlanta’s Jamal Anderson had the previous NFL record with 410 carries set in 1998.

He played three more years. He missed most of two seasons because of injuries. He managed to rush for 1,024 yards the third season but had a feeble average of 3.6 yards per carry.

Signs of wear and tear to Johnson might not reveal themselves until after the season begins.

“He’s well-rested now,” Edwards said. “He’s in better shape right now than he was last year. He’s been training, working hard in practice. He’s finishing everything, doing the things he has to do to get ready. He’s pushing everybody else, pushing the backs. He’s come to practice with a very good focus. He’s trying to get better at some things, mainly being a more dynamic pass catcher coming out of the backfield. He understands that will make him a better football player.”

Kclee
06-02-2007, 07:33 AM
“One thing fans don’t really understand is that I don’t have a 9-to-5 job. I can’t work until I’m 45 in a tie and suit. I’ve got to get what I can get now to take care of not only my future family but my future family’s kids.”


One thing Larry doesn't understand is that he can work until he's 45. What's with NFL players thinking they're entitled to never have to work again?

Count Alex's Losses
06-02-2007, 07:41 AM
One thing Larry doesn't understand is that he can work until he's 45. What's with NFL players thinking they're entitled to never have to work again?

Ever seen the movie Crank?

Kclee
06-02-2007, 07:47 AM
Ever seen the movie Crank?

I don't think so.

Ebolapox
06-02-2007, 09:31 AM
without reading the article, who really cares about greg hill anymore? :p

Simplex3
06-02-2007, 09:38 AM
The Chiefs had no intention this time last year of working Johnson as they did, but couldn’t help themselves in close games.

Ummm, with Herm-ball in town at what point will be EVER not be in a close game?

Count Alex's Losses
06-02-2007, 09:43 AM
Ummm, with Herm-ball in town at what point will be EVER not be in a close game?

Good point, but hopefully we will have another running back to hand the ball to.