Around The Web: LJ’s Christmas List, Bowe’s Turning Point, Steeler Shakeup

Even before he signed his new contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, Larry Johnson posted on his Facebook page what he planned on doing to the Chiefs later in the two teams meet.  After he was officially a member of the team, LJ’s LJBengalsthoughts were still focused on Kansas City and what he’d like from Santa this holiday season.

Asked at an introductory news conference Tuesday about the Chiefs’ visit to Cincinnati on Dec. 27, Johnson said: “I’d be lying if I said I ain’t looking at that game (as one) I want to definitely play in … if that happens, it would be the best Christmas gift I could get.”

Johnson, clad in a dark Bengals shirt featuring a team logo, told Cincinnati reporters that this “is an opportunity to right some wrongs in my past and have an opportunity to play for a good coach, a good team and a lot of good players that is on this team.  For me, it feels like a great fit.”

Johnson, who turns 30 on Thursday, wants to change the perception people have of him. With the Bengals, 7-2, he’s hopeful the focus will be on football and not on himself.  He said his gay slurs two weeks ago were not blown out of proportion.

“It was offensive to gay advocates around the world,” he said.  “…Obviously you’re hurting everybody’s feelings when you do that.  It was a lesson learned.”

But don’t expect too many changes by Johnson.

“I’ve got to be me,” he said.  “I’m not going to be a bad person, but I’m going to be me and enjoy this environment.”

He wants to dispel his reputation as being a “cancer in the locker room.”

“I never broke up a team in the locker room,” Johnson said.  “I’ve been pretty much a locker room-player-guy first.  A lot of the younger guys used to come talk to me, and sit by my locker and I organized my locker to sit where the rookies were so I could talk to them a lot more than the veteran guys.”

Johnson said the Chiefs’ rebuilding efforts of the past few years were frustrating.

“Trying to get things turned around, it’s kind of hard when you’re switching coaches, and switching philosophies — it seems like every other year,” he said.  “It was difficult getting into a rhythm … it’s great to start a new relationship with new team members.”

Johnson said he will be comfortable being a backup.

“I know I have to work my way back up,” he said. “It’s what you take into consideration as far as where you pick to go, but you understand you have to earn your stripes … literally in a situation I’m in, to show this team I’m able to play at a high level.”

There were so many ridiculous things in that press conference I honestly don’t even know where to start.

In looking forward to the game against the Chiefs he’s already showing how phony he was immediately after his release when he went around talking about how he was still a big fan of Todd Haley and was sorry for what he did.  And don’t even get me started about how his comments were overblown.  Trust me, LJ will never “get it”.

As for being a cancer or having difficulty adjusting to different coaches, I love how it’s never his fault.  The way he tells it, Johnson was the best teammate in the locker room and most efficient player on the field.  Ugh.

And working his way back up?  Please… The only special team Larry Johnson knows anything about is the Navy SEALS and that’s because he saw the movie late one night on cable.

On the same day Johnson became a Bengal, the Chiefs lost their most dynamic offensive player — Dwayne Bowe — to a four game suspension.  Bob Gretz thinks this is a time for Bowe to turn the corner in his career for the better.

This isn’t just a penalty to be served by Bowe; it’s going to be served by the entire team.  The 2009 Chiefs do not have many good players, and they certainly don’t have enough to lose one of their best.

The problem that the current coaching staff and the one that came before it had with Bowe was his reliability.  He does not always do what he’s supposed to do on the field.  He does not always get to where the route is designed for him to be.  Everyone has seen that his hands are not reliable given the number of drops he’s had over his 41-game career.

And now, his availability has proven unreliable.  It won’t happen in the next four weeks, but the Chiefs need Bowe to grow up.  More importantly, Dwayne Bowe needs Dwayne Bowe to grow up.  His talents would not be the first wasted because of immaturity.

But, he can do something about it

I’m very hopeful that this will be the wake up call that Bowe needs to start taking his name to the next level.  He needs to come in after his suspension, work his butt off and then carry that into the offseason.  When Todd Haley first see’s Bowe at OTAs, the Chiefs coach better be floored by what he sees…  in a good way!

Our friend Nick Wright from 610 Sports Radio made a great prediction yesterday that Jason Whitlock will end up blaming Bowe’s actions on Todd Haley’s conditioning program.  The article hasn’t come yet, but you know it’s on the way and it’s ridiculous.  I get that players have trouble taking responsibility for their own actions, I do.  I just hope no one tries to enable them in avoiding that responsibility.

When the Steelers lost to the Bengals last week, the only touchdown they gave up was on a kickoff return for a touchdown.  What’s worse, it was the third return for a touchdown in the past four games their special teams had given up.  Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin decided to shakeup the unit to try and change their fortunes.

Backup linebacker Arnold Harrison, who has two Super Bowl rings with the team and has overcome ligament surgeries to both of his knees, could not overcome the need to improve the kick coverage.  He was waived, and linebacker Donovan Woods, who spent last season on both the practice squad and roster, was signed from the practice squad to replace him.

Woods is considered a good special-teams player, and it surprised some when he did not make the team to start the season.

“He’s going to have an opportunity to run down the middle of that unit to see if he can bring some energy to the group,” Tomlin said.  “But it’s not just about the addition of a Donovan Woods.  Donovan Woods is not all of the sudden going to make us the most dynamic kickoff-coverage team in the NFL.”

What might, then?

“It’s detail.  It’s about shedding blocks and making tackles and being schematically sound.  We’re in the process of looking at all elements of that unit.”

Two elements Tomlin expressed little concern over were the kickoffs or attempts at tackles of Jeff Reed.

“Man, I am not going to go down to evaluating Jeff Reed as a tackler,” Tomlin said.  “When it comes down to that, we have failed as a coverage unit.  I don’t lose any sleep on the quality of Jeff Reed’s tackles — or tackle attempts.”

I’m with Tomlin there, you can never get on your kicker for his tackles (or lack thereof).  You have your kicker around to kick, not tackle.  I cringe every time Ryan Succop or Dustin Colquitt head anywhere near a ball carrier.

The Chiefs return teams have been anything but spectacular, so Tomlin’s shakeup came at the right time.  If you make a move like this and then go face a great returner and get burnt then you look silly.  But make a switch and don’t give up any big plays and you like a genius.

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