View Full Version : Chiefs Larry Johnson's injured foot looks healed

05-27-2008, 05:40 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Larry Johnson took a little swing pass, dodged a defender and streaked 50 yards downfield, running hard and fast, free and easy.

Sure, it was only a team workout and anyone who actually had tried to tackle the highest paid player in team history would have risked getting cut right on the spot.

But the foot injury that shelved Kansas City's two-time Pro Bowl running back the final eight games last year seemed fully healed.

CHIEFS IN DEPTH: Getting younger, but unsure at QB

From all appearances, L.J. is back.

"It felt good to come out here and still be able to come out and run," Johnson said after the 90-minute practice on Tuesday. "Body-wise, I'm 100%."

It's taken a long time for the rough-and-tumble running back to say that. After rushing for more than 1,750 yards in 2005 and 2006, he missed most of training camp in a contract dispute and never regained his stride. But he'd scored two touchdowns on Oct. 4 when a Green Bay linebacker jumped onto his back and rode him to the Arrowhead Stadium turf late in the fourth quarter.

Johnson was slow to get up and then hobbled to the sideline. The Chiefs went on to lose that game and eight more, ending their season on a nine-game losing skid and finishing 4-12 while the running back who'd just signed a $45 million contract sat and stewed.

By the time doctors decided a bone in the right foot was broken, the season was lost.

"No one knew what it was," Johnson said. "It was so swollen, they didn't know it was a fracture. They didn't know if the bone had shifted. It was a little bit of both."

Johnson practiced outdoors three days last week. Then on Tuesday, he met with the media for the first time since the injury.

"They wouldn't have me practice if they weren't sure I that I was able to play or even practice," he said. "It felt good just to be out here. Everybody knew my foot was all right. I had fun coming out here practicing."

There seemed to be nothing bothering Johnson as he ran the plays.

"You guys saw him," coach Herm Edwards told reporters. "He's fine."

No one has said the Chiefs' nine-game slide, their longest in any non-strike year, was solely due to Johnson's being sidelined. Plenty of other problems also haunted Edwards' second year in Kansas City, including an aging offensive line that yielded a league-high 55 sacks and made life miserable for second-year quarterback Brodie Croyle. But taking Johnson out of the backfield took away the heart out of an already shaky attack and left it without hope.

"When I was playing, everybody's main emphasis was stopping the run," Johnson said. "Then when you didn't have me back there, those last couple of games it was like, 'all hell's going to break loose. You might as well just blitz him.'

"That's what happened. Of course, you lose that little bit of excitement. I like to rant and rave on the sideline and get everybody pumped up. I think they were kind of missing that. It was like everybody was down and was just trying to get through the season."

Although he didn't have surgery, it was late winter even before Johnson could work out.

"I'd say it was about February," he said. "I did a little bit. In March and April I started to do a little bit more. As soon as we got to offseason workouts, I was able to do a lot more as far as cutting and running straight ahead. That's what they were more concerned about. Was I able to go side-to-side without any problems?"

The answer seems to be yes.

"Sometimes you don't even think about it," he said. "You just make cuts and don't even think about it. To be able to do that and not be so hesitant, like 'Oh, I don't want to hurt myself again,' It felt good just to go out here and run loose. You want to run those plays and be able to cut and show the younger guys you're not that old and you still can play with the best of them. It's fun being out here doing that."

L.A. Chieffan
05-27-2008, 05:41 PM
USAToday ALWAYS has graphs.

05-27-2008, 06:22 PM
USAToday ALWAYS has graphs.


Nice observation. They are pretty graph happy, arent they?

Hammock Parties
05-27-2008, 10:54 PM
As good as this article makes me feel, Nick told me they aren't giving Larry many reps.

05-27-2008, 10:58 PM
Posted on Tue, May. 27, 2008 10:15 PMreprint or license print email Digg it del.icio.us AIM
Chiefs’ Johnson healthy and eager to play again
The Kansas City Star
Larry Johnson was near the sideline Tuesday when he caught a pass from Brodie Croyle. Johnson stretched to grab the ball, and then he toed the sideline and kept on running.

The last time Johnson participated in a practice open to the media, it was December. That time, he was helped off the field at Arrowhead Stadium and, a week later, placed on injured reserve. He missed the final eight games of last season with a fractured bone in his right foot.

But Tuesday, Johnson ran and kept running. There was no limping and, he said later, no pain.

“Sometimes,” he said, “I forgot I had a foot injury.”

Johnson said he is back — for real this time. He said he is healthy and eager to finish practice and play a game. Heck, he said, if the Chiefs had a game this Sunday, he’d be in the starting lineup.

Johnson spoke for nearly 10 minutes Tuesday, a rare interview with the enigmatic and publicly guarded Chiefs running back. He was candid, and no topic was off limits. Sure, he said, Kansas City’s nine-game losing streak to end last season might not have happened if he had been in the lineup.

“When I was playing,” Johnson said, “everybody’s main emphasis was on stopping the run. When you didn’t have me back there those last couple of games, it was like: All hell is going to break loose. You might as well blitz them until they can complete a pass.”

All Johnson could do was watch while he rested and iced an injured foot that, for weeks, had no diagnosis. Johnson said he traveled to North Carolina to be examined by a specialist, who found that a toe bone in Johnson’s right foot was cracked. Even when it felt better and Johnson could walk on the foot without pain, running was a different challenge.

That’s what he learned Dec. 19, when he tried to return to practice. He could walk. He could even run — for two or three yards, before his foot started throbbing again. He had told teammates he would return before the end of the season. But on that Wednesday, six weeks after he hurt the foot in a loss against the Green Bay Packers, Johnson was helped to the locker room, and his season was finished.

Johnson said Tuesday he never had missed a football game because of an injury. He said that was tough on him. And he said it was tough on the team, not only to be absent during the Chiefs’ worst season in 30 years, but also to be a key cause of it.

“I couldn’t give them any explanation,” he said. “I couldn’t tell them, ‘Hey, I’m going to be in it for a couple more weeks.’ I couldn’t give them any explanation because I didn’t know.

“It was like everybody was down and just trying to get through the season.”

Regardless, Johnson said, he is back. Last season is behind him, and so is the injury. He came to Arrowhead last week and saw a team that looked nothing like the one he left behind. There were a handful of veterans and a busload of new faces. The team had changed, and, Johnson realized, so had he.

A year ago, Johnson was a training-camp holdout. He was the 27-year-old upstart, lobbying for his future, looking after No. 1 and signing that $45 million contract.

Now, he’s — what? A veteran? Suddenly, he’s the guy who requested that rookie tailback Jamaal Charles’ locker be next to Johnson’s so Johnson could drop some knowledge on the youngster. He was the one who lumped himself Tuesday with veterans Tony Gonzalez and Brian Waters, the players who will be expected to lead the Chiefs and teach the new guys the way.

Part 2

05-27-2008, 11:00 PM
how was his blocking and catching

05-27-2008, 11:05 PM
“A lot of young guys look up to you,” said Johnson, who will turn 29 in November. “I like to be in that position because you can really guide young minds.”

Johnson was the one who stepped onto the Chiefs’ practice field last week and realized that, sure enough, he’s not a kid anymore.

It’s too early to tell whether Johnson can or will be a team leader. Coach Herm Edwards said that’s up to Johnson. But Edwards said last year’s injury might have been enough to mature Johnson, show him his career won’t last forever, and change a few of his priorities.

“Anytime stuff like that happens to you,” Edwards said, “you take a look at where you’re at. You go: Hey, nothing’s guaranteed. You can get hurt.

“What he had, all of a sudden he missed half the season. I think he’s looking at that.”

And on Tuesday, plenty of people were looking at Johnson. He made the cuts he couldn’t do four months ago. He made the bursts he couldn’t do two months ago. He was the running back Kansas City didn’t have seven months ago, when the team learned how much it needed him.

“It felt good just to be out here,” he said. “I had fun coming out here.”

Then he smiled. He still has some things left to prove.

“Besides,” he said, “you want to show the younger guys that you’re not that old.”

•TONY G OUT: Edwards said the All-Pro tight end went home to California for the coming birth of his second child, a daughter. Edwards said he expected Gonzalez to sit out the rest of this week’s offseason practices.

“Obviously, that’s more important than this,” Edwards said. “He can take his time.”

•CORNERBACKS SIGNED: The Chiefs announced that they signed cornerbacks Will Poole and Jason Horton. Poole attended Chiefs training camp last year but was released. He was a fourth-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2004 and has played in 15 career games with 37 tackles and six deflections.

Horton has played for the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans in four seasons. He missed last season because of a fractured arm. He had 13 tackles in his first two seasons, both of which came with the Packers.

Hammock Parties
05-28-2008, 12:19 AM
Did Larry take a shot at Kyle Turley?

"These kids want to go out there and show the whole world they can play. They're not thinking about what the NFLPA ain't giving them. That's what I like about having young players in, they just want to play."

05-28-2008, 08:29 AM
:)how was his blocking and catching

needs to work on that I guess, but with 2-3 TE sets and FBs why bother.

little jacob
05-28-2008, 08:56 AM
well at least he is on the field being overpaid instead of in street clothes being overpaid

05-28-2008, 09:00 AM
I'm more concerned about his desire to be the RB that he was. I think some of that zeal was lost after he signed the big contract. He has stated, more than one time, that he needs to be angry to run. Herman loves him so where is he going to get that anger fired up?

I do not expect much from him this year. I hope I'm wrong, but there is that nagging feeling that a re-injury may take him out of the game completely.

05-28-2008, 09:06 AM
GO LARRY ... GO LJ ...

05-28-2008, 10:04 AM
Having LJ back and what looks to be an improved offensive line makes me breathe a little easier.

beach tribe
05-28-2008, 10:12 AM
LJ 1300 yrds 14tds 4.1ypc

Charles 500 yrds 5 tds 6.0ypc

KS 350 yrds 3 tds 4.3ypc

05-28-2008, 10:14 AM
LJ 1300 yrds 14tds 4.1ypc

Charles 500 yrds 5 tds 6.0ypc

KS 350 yrds 3 tds 4.3ypc

You think Charles will be our #2 over Smith huh?

beach tribe
05-28-2008, 10:22 AM
You think Charles will be our #2 over Smith huh?

I think he will be the change of pace, and third down back.

I like Kolby, and think he should get the carries he deserves, but the threat of Charles on the field, and LJ not wanting to come off it on obvious running downs, although he should, will put a squeeze on Kolby's carries. Hopefully LJ will see the big picture, and let him on the field.

I think Charles will see a lot of action.

beach tribe
05-28-2008, 10:24 AM
Then again Charles may end up with a lot of recieving yards from being the 3rd DB, and Kolby will be the secondary ball carrier. I'm cool with that too.

05-28-2008, 10:40 AM
Then again Charles may end up with a lot of recieving yards from being the 3rd DB, and Kolby will be the secondary ball carrier. I'm cool with that too.

That's more what I see happening, but either way I'm amped about the extra dimension Charles brings to this offense. Having a Kolby Smith to go along with Charles and Johnson makes this a sturdy backfield.