With Larry Johnson sitting out this week’s game against the Jaguars due to a one game suspension, there are still questions about what will happen once he gets back. According to PFT, if Todd Haley decides to deactivate LJ on game days, he and his agent are prepared to accept any decision that is made.
“There’s nothing they can do,” a source said. “It’s the coach’s decision.”
A decision to deactivate Johnson would entail more than Johnson standing in street clothes. Johnson has a per-game roster bonus that pays him more than $60,000 per game, but only if he is on the active game-day roster. If he is deactivated, he loses that money.
Even if the union is able to persuade Johnson to fight the matter, there’s a point at which the ability of the coach to run his team overcomes the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Previously, an arbitrator was unwilling to find that teams cannot send players home with pay. The union thereafter inserted language into the labor agreement preventing this tactic.
But the new language says nothing about the decisions that are made regarding the men who will dress and those who won’t for games — or of those who dress, those who will start and those who will play.
From the beginning of this fiasco I’ve been very clear that the Chiefs should cut LJ immediately. But I do realize why that wouldn’t work. And I do love the idea of Johnson just standing on the sidelines on game days just watching $60k fly out the window.
The big surprise here is that Larry Johnson is finally willing to turn down a fight.
The Chiefs will be without their starting running back this weekend but should get their starting left tackle, Branden Albert back. It was Albert’s 25th birthday yesterday and he told Bob Gretz how he celebrated.
“Best present I could have is to get a chance to play again. That’s what I’ve been working on for three weeks.”
His chances of being back on the field at left tackle this Sunday in Jacksonville are very good. The left ankle injury that he suffered against Dallas on October 11th isn’t completely healed, but he’s improved enough that he can handle the duties of protecting QB Matt Cassel’s back and opening some holes for RB Jamaal Charles.
“It’s been hard watching,” Albert admitted. “Wade (Smith) and Barry (Richardson) did a good job, but it’s a helpless feeling not being able to play and contribute something.”
In an attempt to try finding something positive in a negative, the respite from playing gave Albert a chance to take a big picture view of how he was playing before suffering the injury.
“I’ve got to get better,” Albert said. “There are a lot of things that I have to work on just with my game, my fundamentals. I’m only in my second year and there are lessons to be learned every week. That doesn’t include just knowing more about the guys I’m facing and preparing for what they do in the game.”
Albert needs to be better and I think he will be. Coming back against a weak pass rush will go a long way to help matters both for Albert and the Chiefs offense as a whole. And I really think a game plan built around Jamaal Charles’ skills will help with Albert’s adjustments to his new body.
He lost 40 pounds and was being asked to use his athleticism while blocking for Larry Johnson up the middle. But with Charles being used — most likely — in more stretch and screen plays, it could go a long way to helping the second year tackle finally get comfortable using his new body.
With Jarrad Page out for the season and Jon McGraw injured, the Chiefs are dealing with problems at the safety position. The Jacksonville Jaguars have troubles of their own in the defensive backfield.
Safety Reggie Nelson missed several tackles and gave up a touchdown pass while filling in at cornerback for Rashean Mathis. Now the task for Nelson is to rebound Sunday against Kansas City.
“I had a bad week a couple of weeks ago [against Seattle],” Mathis said. “We have to respond positively to it. He’s a young talent, so my job as a veteran is to help that talent blossom so he can be one of the best players in the game.”
One thing that will help Nelson is Mathis returned to practice Wednesday after being sidelined last week with a broken left index finger. If Mathis can play Sunday, and he said he will, Nelson can move back to safety.
“Of course, he’s more comfortable [at safety],” Mathis said. “It’s like putting me at linebacker.”
Coach Jack Del Rio made it obvious that Nelson has to step up his game if he’s to remain in the lineup.
“Clearly, for him to continue to play, he’s got to play better,” Del Rio said. “Anybody that’s going to play for us has got to play at a higher level than that. He understands that very clearly.”
On Wednesday, Del Rio seemed convinced Nelson will bounce back.
“He’s a prideful guy,” Del Rio said. “Our football players will bounce back.”
Nelson appears to have the type of personality a defensive back needs to bounce back from a difficult week. He was smiling while talking to reporters Wednesday and didn’t seem worried.
“I mean, stuff happens. You can just carry it around on your shoulders. That was last week. We’ve got a job to do, and we look forward to the Chiefs,” Nelson said.
Of his problems tackling against the Titans, he said, “I can’t even recall having a week like that, missing that many tackles. Everybody has their week. It was my week. I didn’t perform well, and I didn’t tackle well.”
Between the Chiefs and Jaguars, we could see a lot of guys playing out of position. Kansas City is going to have at least DaJuan Morgan sliding over from strong to free safety and potentially Maurice Leggett getting some snaps at free safety as well. If Mathis’ injury acts up, Nelson could get a shot at redemption at cornerback. Even if he stays at his native safety position, his trouble tackling the last couple of games could carry over and make for an interesting day in the defensive backfield.