2000 yards or Super Bowl?

It was Willie Roaf's idea, really. The notion that blocking for a 2,000-yard back, one possibly making a run at Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, would be, well, a rush.

"At this point in my career, it would be great to be a part of something like that," the 36-year-old Roaf said. "It's something I would never have imagined being involved in. That would be exciting."

The Chiefs will be hearing a lot about 2,000-yard seasons and Eric Dickerson after Larry Johnson's breakthrough campaign of 2005.

In nine starts as a replacement for the injured Priest Holmes -- who may have played his last game for the Chiefs, though not even he knows that for sure -- Johnson rushed for 1,750 yards. That's a 150-yard average (on an average of 29 carries) as a starter. Project that over a 16-game season -- which is fair, because Johnson averaged only 57 yards and nine carries in seven games as a backup -- and the number comes out to a staggering 2,400 yards.

Now, that's probably too much to expect of any NFL back. The pounding incurred in such a 16-game season would likely be too much for any back to take, even one such as Johnson, who is capable of dishing out as much punishment as he takes.

So Johnson, consequently, says he doesn't put much stock in talk of a record-breaking run.

"I've only got one goal," Johnson said, "and that is to get Will Shields, Willie Roaf, Trent Green and those (older) guys a Super Bowl ring.

"The 2,000-yard thing, that's not a goal. If it happens, it happens. If it don't, I've got four, five, maybe seven or eight years left to get that record. But Willie Roaf, Will Shields, they don't have that much time to get the ring.

"It would be nice to get 2,000 yards, and they would be a big part of that. But they don't hand out championship rings for guys who block for 2,000-yard backs. I'd rather they go into their life after football with a Super Bowl ring."

That's the kind of attitude new Chiefs coach Herm Edwards was hoping for when he told Johnson in his first weeks in Kansas City that he would be the Chiefs featured back in 2006, and that he expected Johnson to show the leadership that comes with such a responsibility.

If there are changes that come with the new role, they're not outwardly visible.

In his first extended media sessions with Kansas City reporters since shortly after he became a starter last year -- "I do interviews when I have to," he explained tersely -- Johnson was still the guy with the chip on his shoulder. It is his manner, even his way of finding personal motivation that carries over to the field in the angry, punishing running style that makes him a candidate for record consideration.

Johnson, for instance, still isn't happy about spending his first 2 1/2 seasons sitting behind Holmes, even though Priest was one of the game's best backs through much of that time.

"I'm still a little frustrated, still a littled PO'd, that I've got to make up ground that I missed my first two seasons," he said.

"I still feel like I'm playing behind the eight ball. Other guys like LaDainian Tomlinson are already seasoned veterans. I'm two, three years behind. I've still got a lot to prove, to show I can carry the load for 16 games."

A lot of NFL people, Willie Roaf included, are anxious to see how he does.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories