2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Chiefs linebacker Johnson sets sights on record

By DAVE SKRETTA - AP Sports Writer
    2014-07-29 15:50

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) - The question lobbed from the back of the media scrum was something of a throwaway, one last query for Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson as he headed from the practice field to the locker room.

It wound up stopping him in his tracks.

''You're 32. Have you given any thought to how much time you want to keep doing this?''

''First of all,'' Johnson replied glibly, ''I'm 31. I'll be 32 soon.''

On Nov. 22, to be exact. But what could have been an awkward moment was immediately defused by the effervescent smile that Johnson plastered on his face, one that seems to be permanently affixed these days.

The veteran is beginning his 10th season, coming off his third Pro Bowl, and closing in on the franchise record for tackles - he needs 19 to reach 1,000 for his career, which would be one more than Gary Spani recorded from 1978-86.

He still believes his best days are ahead of him, even if the first strands of gray hair are lurking in the shadows.

''No, it hasn't crossed my mind,'' Johnson continued, when asked about retirement. ''I've been fortunate and blessed not to have a major injury. Every year, when I go back to work out with Jamaal (Charles) and all of these guys. If I can keep up with these guys, I can come back.''

Besides, age is just a number at his position. Ray Lewis and London Fletcher were both playing at a high level when they retired at age 38. Keith Brooking, Mike Peterson and Vonnie Holliday were also hanging around in their late 30s, though their play had begun to taper off.

There have been no signs of that happening with Johnson's play.

''He has a unique skill set. He has great range and great speed for a linebacker, which allows us to do a lot of things,'' Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said.

''Any time you have speed, a lot of times the things that go unnoticed are the plays you prevent. Sometimes, a 5-yard gain stays 5 yards because you have the speed to be over there to make a tackle.

''In the time I've been here,'' said Sutton, who was hired last year, ''he has improved all the time, which has kind of been his trademark since he's been in the league.''

Indeed, if there is any constant on the Chiefs defense, it is No. 56 in the middle of the linebacker group.

After falling out of favor with former coach Todd Haley in 2009, and regaining his starting job the following year, Johnson has started every game with the exception of last season's finale, a meaningless game in which current coach Andy Reid rested nearly every starter.

Along the way, Johnson has put together four straight seasons of at least 100 tackles, picked off five passes and put relentless heat on unsuspecting quarterbacks.

He's managed to do it through a revolving door of head coaches and defensive coordinators, too, and even teammates at his own position. He's had four different linebackers start alongside him over the past two seasons, and will likely have another one in Joe Mays when this season kicks off.

''He's been just a big-time playmaker,'' Mays said. ''Now, I'm trying to pick his brain so I can get the chance to be where he's at, doing things that he's been doing on the field.''

Does it matter who is playing next to him?

''Does not matter, does not matter. This league is about change, how you adjust, and people change around the league all the time,'' Johnson said, shaking his head. ''When they come in, the veterans get them acclimated to the system and just go.''

Go, go, go. That's been Johnson's mantra since his days wrecking running backs at Texas, when he made a name for himself as one of the nation's premier linebackers.

And it was that constant pursuit of unparalleled perfection that made him a first-round draft choice in 2005, when Chiefs rookie De'Anthony Thomas was still playing Pop Warner football in Los Angeles.

''He's a pro, in every aspect of it. He's a pro,'' Reid said. ''Just handles everything the right way: classroom, on the field, off the field. He's top-notch.''

Back to that question about retirement, though.

Johnson is only signed through next season, which makes his long-term future uncertain. Will the Chiefs be willing to give him anything more than year-to-year deals? Will any team? And will he still have the same drive to keep playing the game at the highest of levels.

''I've been blessed to be with the Chiefs for this long,'' he said. ''The main part is staying healthy, being out there, being accountable, being responsible, staying on the field when they need me. ... You've never arrived. There is always room to get better.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Jake BequetteAug 28 08:52a

New England Patriots TE/DE Jake Bequette (undisclosed) was waived/injured Thursday, Aug. 27.

Miles AustinAug 28 08:32a

Philadelphia Eagles WR Miles Austin hasn't stood out, or received many chances to stand out, thus in training camp. His role is undetermined as he could start on the [ More ]

Nelson AgholorAug 27 10:22p

Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor should be the 'second-most productive receiver on the team when the season ends,' according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Ryan MallettAug 27 07:52p

Updating a previous report, Houston Texans QB Ryan Mallett missed practice Thursday, Aug. 27, because he overslept. Mallett was present for meetings later on, however. He will also be at practice Friday, Aug. 28.

Josh JohnsonAug 27 07:42p

Free-agent QB Josh Johnson (Bengals) signed with the New York Jets Thursday, Aug. 29. QB Jake Heaps was subsequently waived.

R. Griffin IIIAug 27 07:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (concussion) has been cleared to play Saturday, Aug. 29, against the Baltimore Ravens.

Earl ThomasAug 27 06:22p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) is on track to be ready for the start of the regular season, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Markus WheatonAug 27 05:42p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Markus Wheaton could be primed for a breakout season, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler.

Letroy GuionAug 27 04:52p

Green Bay Packers DE Letroy Guion will be suspended for the first three games of the regular season after his appeal was apparently denied.

Martavis BryantAug 27 03:02p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant has been suspended four games for violating the league's Substance Abuse Policy, according to league sources. He has filed an appeal.

Arian FosterAug 27 02:22p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) has been working out in Houston, and he's expected to return to the field in some facet by Week 2 to Week 4, [ More ]

Pat DevlinAug 27 10:32a

Free-agent QB Pat Devlin (Dolphins) signed with the Cleveland Browns Thursday, Aug. 27. OL Ryan Seymour was waived.

Connor BarthAug 26 08:53p

Free-agent PK Connor Barth (Broncos) agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Aug. 26, on a two-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

DeVante ParkerAug 26 04:23p

Miami Dolphins rookie WR DeVante Parker (foot) isn't sure if he'll be healthy enough in time for Week 1. He and the Dolphins don't want to have rushed return [ More ]

Brandon McManusAug 26 10:33a

Denver Broncos PK Brandon McManus won the kicking job as PK Connor Barth was released Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Connor BarthAug 26 10:33a

Denver Broncos PK Brandon McManus won the kicking job as PK Connor Barth was released Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Evan RoysterAug 26 10:13a

Atlanta Falcons RB Evan Royster (undisclosed) was waived/injured Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Rex GrossmanAug 26 09:23a

Free-agent QB Rex Grossman (Redskins) was signed by the Atlanta Falcons to a one-year, $1 million deal Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Taylor MaysAug 26 12:43a

The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent SS Taylor Mays (Bengals) Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Orlando ScandrickAug 26 12:43a

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick (knee) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Tuesday, Aug. 25. An MRI confirmed the injury.

Michael VickAug 25 07:42p

Updating a previous report, free-agent QB Michael Vick (Jets) signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday, Aug. 25. Financial terms were not disclosed. QB Bruce Gradkowski (finger) [ More ]

Evan MathisAug 25 06:13p

Free-agent OG Evan Mathis (Eagles) agreed to a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Jameis WinstonAug 25 04:33p

Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie QB Jameis Winston (ankle) suffered a sprained ankle Monday, Aug. 24, against the Cincinnati Bengals. Head coach Lovie Smith still expects [ More ]

Josh JohnsonAug 25 02:53p

Cincinnati Bengals QB Josh Johnson was released Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Victor CruzAug 25 02:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (calf) doesn't know when he'll be able to return to practice as he continues to deal with inflammation in [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerAug 25 01:23p

Tennessee Titans backup QB Zach Mettenberger has performed at a high level in training camp and the preseason, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt laughed off a suggestion that the [ More ]

Bruce GradkowskiAug 25 12:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers backup QB Bruce Gradkowski (finger) suffered a dislocated finger on his left hand during the team's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers last weekend, according to [ More ]

Andre WilliamsAug 25 12:22p

New York Giants RB Andre Williams could overtake RB Rashad Jennings as the lead back sometime this season, maybe even to open the season. Williams has worked on his [ More ]

Mike EvansAug 25 09:13a

Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) isn't believed to have a serious hamstring injury. 'I talked to him and he didn't feel like it [ More ]

Jameis WinstonAug 24 11:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston completed eight of his 13 pass attempts for 90 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in the preseason game Monday, Aug. 24, against [ More ]

Doug MartinAug 24 11:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin rushed six times for 59 yards in the preseason game Monday, Aug. 24, against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mike EvansAug 24 09:12p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) left the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, Aug. 24, due to a strained hamstring.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group