|Larry Johnson will have missed final 8 games for slumping Chiefs|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 24 December 2007 14:18|
Kansas City coach Herm Edwards confirmed Monday that Johnson would not play in the season finale at the New York Jets, meaning the two-time Pro Bowl running back has lost the better part of an entire season in the prime of his career.
Week after week, the Chiefs refused to disclose the nature of the injury and were hoping, they said, that Johnson would get back on the field.
It wasn't until several weeks after he got hurt that Johnson revealed on a teammate's radio show he'd broken a bone in his right foot.
After doing individual work for more than a month, he tried to return to practice last week, but apparently suffered a setback.
``Larry's gotten a lot better, but it's not to the point where we feel he can play,'' Edwards said. ``It's not good for him not at 100 percent trying to play football. It's to the point now where you have to protect the player.''
Edwards also said quarterback Brodie Croyle would be questionable for the season finale. The second-year pro, who has made five mostly disappointing starts, bruised his hand while trying to stop a Detroit defender from returning an interception for a touchdown on Sunday. He will be replaced by Damon Huard if Croyle can't play.
Johnson hurt the foot late in the fourth quarter of a 33-22 loss to Green Bay. The Chiefs (4-11) then lost their next seven and will take an eight-game losing streak into their game against the Jets, ending what is certain to be their worst season since Carl Peterson arrived as president and general manager in 1989.
Edwards agreed that, in retrospect, it would have been better to put Johnson on injured reserve and give his roster spot to someone else.
``But when he got hurt, you're always looking at if you win some games, then all of a sudden you could be in position to make a playoff run, or you get in the playoffs, you want your best players available,'' Edwards said. ``It didn't hurt us.''
For the season, Johnson had 158 carries for 559 yards and three touchdowns, and also caught 30 passes for 186 yards. He carried an NFL-record 416 times in 2006 while rushing for 17 touchdowns and a team-record 1,750 yards. But he may have been rusty after missing almost all of training camp and having only a handful of carries this preseason.
Even though the Chiefs eased him into action, he never seemed to get right. He was slowed by a hamstring pull for a while, then had two good games, but got hurt again and never came back.
``It's always hard when players miss time and when they're not around and miss training camp,'' Edwards said. ``But you never feel that a guy can't survive that. The difference between Larry and (defensive end) Jared Allen is Jared missed two games and still had a great year. But Jared Allen was around. He was in training camp. He was there. He was working. You need to work. You really do. You need to be around your teammates.''
Johnson will be 29 before next season is over. Will the Chiefs ever see him run with the speed and power they saw in 2005 and 2006?
``The good thing about it is now he'll have the whole offseason to get it healthy,'' Edwards said. ``He wants to be a good player. He'll come back. He'll be ready to go next year. He'll be fresh. He's only going to be 29 next year. He didn't carry the ball a lot. He didn't carry it 416 times.''