Todd Haley said today that he would get into which players will start against the Chargers later in the week, but according to Adam Teicher, some of those decisions have already been made and shared with the team.
In what appeared to be an intense competition for the starting job on the weak side, Johnson beat out Demorrio Williams, who wasn’t happy about the news.
“They said Derrick is going to start out the first game,” he said. “I’m just going to come to work every day and do my job.”
Williams led the Chiefs in sacks in the preseason with three. Asked if he played well enough in the preseason to win the job, Williams said, “I don’t have to answer that question. You already know the answer to that question. What do you think?”
The Chiefs also appear to have selected Jovan Belcher over Corey Mays at the other inside linebacker position and Casey Wiegmann over Rudy Niswanger to be the starting center. Johnson, Belcher and Wiegmann were all working with the starters in the handful of plays the media was allowed to watch on Monday, the first day of practice in preparation for the San Diego game.
Johnson said his play in training camp and the preseason was more consistent than it’s ever been.
“I’ve been there every day,” Johnson said. “I’ve been consistent with my play. I haven’t been that way all the time before mainly because I haven’t been healthy. That’s my reason. I’ve been healthy now. I’m better than I’ve ever been, way ahead. No nicks, no dings. I’ve been taking care of my body. I’ve had none of those injuries where I’ve had to compensate and something else breaks down.”
All Johnson wanted last year was a chance to get on the field and prove he was ready to cash in on his potential the way Chiefs fans have been waiting for him to do since he was drafted. In his limited duty, he seemed to do that but still couldn’t get consistent playing time. Starting one game doesn’t guarantee he will get consistent playing time, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
An important thing to remember here is that the Chiefs are very thin at outside linebacker right now and Williams will see time behind Tamba Hali. Once Cameron Sheffield is cleared to play or Kansas City picks up another outside linebacker, Williams will be needed outside in addition to his responsibilities inside.
So even though it’s easy to say that Johnson won this battle, there’s a very good chance that this is only temporary until the Chiefs have a full stable of outside linebackers.