The always popular topic of Derrick Johnson’s playing time popped up again during the first week of OTAs when he was running with the second team defense just as he did last season. Johnson, for his part, has not complained much publicly.
“I could have been a (distraction) and caused a lot of trouble but I’m not that kind of guy,” he said.
“I want to be a big part of the defense. I want to help us win. I’ve got one more year to do what I’ve got to do. I want to get on the field. That’s my main focus. I need to get on the field. I still believe in my ability.”
Johnson, who began the offseason as a restricted free agent, signed his one-year contract offer. His comments seem to indicate he is intent on leaving as an unrestricted free agent next year.
Until then, Johnson seems intent on making what could be his last season with the Chiefs his best.
“I’ve always been a guy that you can game-plan around to help the defense do different stuff,” he said. “My standards for being a big part of the defense have not changed. The older I get, the more I want to play. I’m not looking for what happened last year to happen again.
“(The coaches) see me working. They see me being the first guy running through the drills, beating everybody. I think they know what they have in me. I can’t wait until we put the pads on. I’ve got so much built up inside me. As long as I stay healthy, I’ll be good. If I’m healthy, I can do a lot of great things.”
It seems pretty clear that Todd Haley told Johnson flat out that he needs to play at the same level when he is nicked up as he does when he is healthy. If there’s one thing that annoys the Chiefs head coach, it’s a player that misses reps (or losses focus) due to a minor injury.
There’s no doubt that as soon as he is able to leave, Johnson will be on the first plane out of Kansas City for a starting job elsewhere in the league. I’ve been one of his biggest supporters and believe he will have no lack of suitors once this season is over. In fact, if the lack of a new CBA hadn’t changed his status from unrestricted to restricted in free agency then we would be talking about former Chief Derrick Johnson.
No matter how you feel about his abilities, it’s hard to argue with his desire to play elsewhere since it would allow him to actually play on a consistent basis. All he did last year when he did get on the field was make plays and yet he still had to deal with the media (and fans) asking him why he wasn’t in the starting lineup.