There are still questions about just what city Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson will end up playing his football this season, but he told the Statesman’s Cedric Golden he just wants to play more than he wants to be in Kansas City.
“I want to be the best football player I can be in 2010, if I’m with the Chiefs or not,” Johnson said. “I love being a Chief, but last year my playing time wavered a little bit. I like playing and being part of the defense more than I like being a Chief. I like starting.”
He’s a natural outside linebacker who plays best when he can use his speed, as seen in last season’s finale, when he returned two interceptions for touchdowns (one for 70 yards) against Denver.
That was the highlight of his season, but there were more lowlights. Johnson said it killed him to have to watch from the sidelines down the stretch of games he was accustomed to playing in. To hear him speak makes it hard to imagine him wanting to go through that again.
“I like being on the field,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what team as long as on I’m on the field. The Chiefs are a great organization, don’t get me wrong. But at the same time, I want to play too. I’m a good player and my mind hasn’t changed about that.”
I’m not going to take issue with anything DJ said.
If you have been following this site from the beginning then you know there is no bigger fan of Derrick Johnson than me. I believe that not only is he a starter, but I think he can play on the outside (much like the very intelligent Mr. Golden).
The thing that has bothered me most over the past year is the assumption that Johnson can’t rush the passer because he has never posted big sack numbers. He showed last year that he has the speed to get to the quarterback when asked. Yet instead of earning his starting job back, DJ was still used in a reserve role down the stretch, though his snaps did increase.
As I said yesterday, if Scott Pioli is able to get any value for Johnson in the way of 2010 draft picks he has to pull the trigger. Not because DJ is owed anything, but because if he isn’t going to be on the field the team is better off trying to find a rookie that will be.