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Old 08-26-2005, 09:07 AM  
RedThat RedThat is offline
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Johnson again says he wants chance to start somewhere

By ELIZABETH MERRILL

The Kansas City Star

L.J. is growing. His teammates say so.

Once dubbed a loner, and an occasional pouter, Larry Johnson tears through tacklers, springs to his feet and is the first in the huddle. Hell be a major contributor to the Chiefs offense, offensive coordinator Al Saunders said Thursday. Hes blossomed, Saunders says.

After hearing the group lovefest late Thursday, Johnson, with a straight face, said he hasnt changed much at all.

Ive still got an attitude problem, he said. I still feel the same Ive always felt. I see the draft, I see guys like Cedric Benson, Carnell Williams, all those guys who have a chance to be starters on their teams. Im just looking for my chance.

I dont want to waste three or four years of my prime running behind somebody, period. I dont care who it is. I feel like I should start somewhere in this league.

That somebody Johnson runs behind is Priest Holmes, a three-time Pro Bowler who has 13 pages in the Chiefs media guide devoted to him. Johnson is friends with Holmes and understands that the man who set an NFL record for touchdowns in a season needs to get his playing time.

Johnson has just spent two long years waiting for his playing time. It came in the second half of 2004, when Holmes was out for the season because of a knee injury. Johnson ran for 541 yards and nine touchdowns in the last six games.

When Holmes worked out just once a day during training camp, Johnson was back with the No. 1 offense. He has bulled his way over defenders and has sharpened his pass-catching skills. Externally, Johnson, a 2002 Heisman Trophy finalist, has tried not to show his frustrations.

If I internally show it, Johnson said, its (in) how I run with the ball. Im a hard runner. When Im out there trash-talking and trying to run over people and fighting and all of that, thats my frustrations coming out.

Im ready to get my career on the road. There are some goals and things in my career that I want to shoot for as far as Walter Paytons yardage and Emmitt (Smith) and all those things they got a chance to do. I just want my chance to do it.

Saunders says Johnson will get his chances this fall. After starting 2004 as the No. 3 running back behind Derrick Blaylock, Johnson has solidified the No. 2 spot and will get significant playing time in Saturday nights third preseason game against Seattle.

Hes been impressive in the first half of the preseason. Last weekend against Arizona, Johnson had 49 yards in nine carries. Johnson could always run. His senior year at Penn State, he led the nation with 2,087 yards rushing. But in Kansas Citys offense, running backs are asked to do more. Theyre pass protectors and pass catchers.

Saunders says hes noticed a different focus in Johnson this summer.

Hes matured a lot, as everybody does, Saunders said. He understands the system much greater. His work ethic has been outstanding.

The way he has performed this training camp, we expect him to be a major contributor to this offense.

When asked what that meant, Saunders said, It means he will contribute a lot.

His work, Saunders said, will depend on the opponent. Johnson said hell do more passing routes and dabble at fullback. Thats all in the game plan, he said. Johnson is just happy hes in the game plan.

He said he never blamed anybody, not the coaches, the front office or Holmes. He just blamed the situation. Guard Brian Waters said it was a tough situation for any rookie to handle. And that Johnson has grown from it.

Ive seen him since the first day he was here when he was a rookie until now, Waters said. And hes a totally different football player. Hes motivated, hes hungry, and he runs with passion.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:09 AM   #2
Count Zarth Count Zarth is offline
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I kinda hope Priest retires after this year...don't want to lose Larry.

I think it will work out that way anyway.
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KC has chosen to hitch their playoff hopes on 30+ year old game manager QB with obvious limitations with no real future prospect at signal caller on the roster.

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Old 08-26-2005, 09:13 AM   #3
WisChief WisChief is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gochiefs
I kinda hope Priest retires after this year...don't want to lose Larry.

I think it will work out that way anyway.
I'll take it a step further and say I'd be okay with LJ getting the vast majority of the work up to the 20. Redzone time, but PH in. LJ wants his td's - get 'em from 20+ out and I think he can.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:13 AM   #4
StcChief StcChief is offline
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He'll get plenty this year and in future in KC.
I predicate Priest will hang up the cleats after 2005.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:15 AM   #5
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I hope he wants to be a starter. If he didn't, I'd question his passion for the game.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:19 AM   #6
BigRedChief BigRedChief is offline
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I like to see LJ be more agressive. You want to be the "man" you have to go for it. Just make sure you have the talent to back it up. AKA Steve Young pushing Montana.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:19 AM   #7
jidar1 jidar1 is offline
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I doubt Priest retires. RBs at the end of their career, they always say they are going to retire but they rarely do. Priest will probably have to be forced out like all of the rest of them, I just hope we manage to keep LJ on the team while this is playing out.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:20 AM   #8
PRIEST PRIEST is online now
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Priest has said he want's to play two more years,the ten year mile stone.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:27 AM   #9
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I say next season, if LJ is actually better than PH in training camp and preseason, start LJ. As long as PH is healthy, I don't think LJ will take his spot 'til '07...
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:28 AM   #10
Count Zarth Count Zarth is offline
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Originally Posted by Discuss Thrower View Post
KC has chosen to hitch their playoff hopes on 30+ year old game manager QB with obvious limitations with no real future prospect at signal caller on the roster.

There is no difference from what Dorsey is doing now than what the franchise has done for the last 25 years.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:31 AM   #11
Chiefs_Mike_Topeka Chiefs_Mike_Topeka is offline
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I don't think Johnson needs to be talking about breaking any records right now. To mention Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton in terms of what he wants to accomplish might be a little over the top.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:31 AM   #12
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I want Priest to hang around as long as he wants to. He's actually EARNED my respect with his incredible play on the field and generousity off the field. Larry will get his carries THIS year. But, he won't be "THE MAN" till Priest decides to hand over the spot.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:31 AM   #13
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Trade LJ for Scott Fujita!
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:32 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiefs_Mike_Topeka
I don't think Johnson needs to be talking about breaking any records right now. To mention Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton in terms of what he wants to accomplish might be a little over the top.
Do you set goals after you've gotten half way there?

I usually set up my goals prior to setting out after them.
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Old 08-26-2005, 09:35 AM   #15
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Why can't Larry be more like Todd Collins?!!!
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