This week Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson made it clear that he wants to be the starter. "I don't want to waste three or four years of my prime running behind somebody, period. I don't care who it is. I feel like I should start somewhere in this league," Johnson told reporters.
On Saturday night he made his case to Chiefs coaching staff. After being ineffective for a quarter and a half, Priest Holmes gave way to Larry Johnson, and Johnson showed the same home-run ability that was evident in the final five games of the 2004 season.
Johnson ripped of a 97-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and ended his night with 147 yards on nine carries. He was clearly the offensive spark plug this team needed after starting quarterback Trent Green left the game midway through the first quarter.
The Chiefs will never open the door or allow a running back debate, but Johnson needs to play more. In the NFL, you have to go with the hot hand, and nobody is hotter than the former Penn State running back.
Priest Holmes is one of the game's premier players, but he's been injured in two of the last three NFL seasons. Johnson, after a very difficult season and a half in Kansas City, appears headed on the right track. But his comments have stirred things up, and now his play on the field could cause shockwaves throughout the rest of the NFL if he does not get more playing time.
Johnson knows that eventually he'll be the featured back in Kansas City, but with his recent play how do the Chiefs not put him on the field as the starter?
After the game, he reiterated his stance that he understood that he was a back-up and that it was up to the coaches to determine how much playing time he gets once the regular season starts in two weeks.
Holmes has already come to the conclusion that Johnson will carry some of the load on offense. It's never a great situation when one of your star players gets upstaged by a younger player, but Johnson is truly an offensive catalyst that needs to play more often.
On Saturday night after his long touchdown run, Johnson appeared very humble to the media. He already knows that he runs behind an amazing offensive line. But to his credit, he turned up the jets as he found the open gap in the defensive line.
"I was kind of hesitant, because I couldn't believe how open the hole was. Usually you're waiting for a linebacker to make a move, and there was no one there. Once I got through and saw that I could explode, I did," Johnson said. "I was running like a pack of wolves were after me. I was hoping no one would catch me."
Well, nobody did. With a solid training camp and preseason, Johnson has given Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil and Offensive Coordinator Al Saunders a lot more to think about as they prepare for the team's season opener against the New York Jets in two weeks.
On Saturday night, Johnson showed why he can be the man in the Chiefs offense and why he should get just as many carries as Priest Holmes.
Larry Johnson's Running Could Start New Debate
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