Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson and head coach Herm Edwards spoke to the Houston media Wednesday.
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards and running back Larry Johnson spoke to the Houston media via conference call on Wednesday, just days before their showdown with the Texans at the Liberty White Kickoff on Sept. 9.
Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Herm Edwards
(on if he is concerned going in to this week after the Chiefs' performance in the preseason)
"I'm disappointed, but concerned, no. Everyone has a different plan when they go into the preseason. Obviously, ours was that we wanted to play a lot of our young players. We had a quarterback competition going with Brodie (Croyle) and Damon (Huard). Damon didn't play the last two games and that kind of hindered us a little bit offensively. With that being said, that's how we went into the preseason. I've done it this way as long as I've been a head coach. I did it that way in New York and I did it that way last year. We were in some games that we had a chance to win and we didn't do it. The young players generally played the third and fourth quarter. We had some opportunities and we turned the ball over way too much offensively, and defensively, we didn't hold the lead in one of the games and in another game that we were leading, they ran the kickoff back for a touchdown. I'm disappointed. Concerned, I don't know if you're concerned, you're just disappointed."
(on how he reached the decision to go with quarterback Damon Huard over Brodie Croyle) "Well, it was one when you look at everything and you weigh all the practices and weigh where the kid is right now, he's a talented player. We feel he will be the quarterback in the future for us. Damon has great stability and we needed somebody in that position at this point in time for us and the fact that we weren't very consistent on offense in the preseason."
(on how running back Larry Johnson is looking) "He's ready to play. He got into shape when he wasn't here. He was in shape and he came to camp. He's got two weeks under his belt now. I know he hasn't played but three reps, obviously, in the last game. He had 400 reps last year, so the rest probably did him good. He'll be ready to go."
(on what it was like with HBO around so much for the special "Hard Knocks") "It's been a little interesting at times. think the first time that they arrived and the first couple of days you have cameras all over the place, but then it becomes just what you do and you don't really worry about them. I haven't seen any of the shows. I heard the shows have gone on pretty good. I know it's always tough the last week because you're cutting players. That's never a comfortable situation because all teams cut players, but you don't see it happen on television. You're going to see our guys get cut on television, so that's kind of a downer."
(on if having HBO there affected the way he ran training camp) "No, I'm going to run training camp the way I've always run it. I'm going to be who I am. I'm not going to change for the camera. Remember, I was in New York for five years, cameras follow you around all the time. No, it really didn't. I think our players, if anything, knew they were going to be on television at times and didn't want to put themselves in an embarrassing situation."
(on if he knew that the last time Larry Johnson played in Houston, he set the franchise-record with 212 rushing yards) "That was two years ago or something like that. No, I'm not a big stat guy. I don't look at stats on individual players and all that. The only one I'm concerned with has two columns, it's the win column and the loss column. I don't worry about all the other ones."
(on how it feels to see Johnson out there with the offense) "It's been good in practice and, obviously, what we're trying to do offensively. We have a veteran offense when you really think about our offense. Our defense is 18 new players in a year. But offensively, there are a lot of guys that have played in this offense. That's the good part about it. The quarterback has played. The offensive linemen have played it, most of the receivers. We have two young receivers that are going to play a lot for us, which we like, so that will be interesting for us."
(on how difficult it is to game plan for the Texans because they have a new quarterback and new running back) "You lean on a little bit of preseason and you go back, obviously, to some regular season games. The runner is, obviously, an established runner in the league and the quarterback has been a player that is highly touted. He spent a little bit of time in Atlanta, didn't play a whole lot, but he's a talented player. remember when he came out of Virginia. He was a good player then and he's getting his chance now, his opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the league. I know he's excited. They have some good weapons on offense. Their defense is very fast. Their special teams has done a great job. They are an up-and-coming team. They were 6-10 last year. They have a lot of young players on the football team and acquired some veteran guys. They're excited and they should be. They are headed in a direction where they feel that they are going to have the chance to do some things this year. They should be excited."
(on if he is happy with his defense going in to the season) "We're improved. We're improving. I guess when we first arrived here, we were 31st or something and last year, we snuck in there at about the 15th ranked defense, or somewhere right around in there. We're trying to get better. We're trying to get into the top 10 and eventually getting to be one of those top echelon defenses. We have a lot of young players over there that are going to play for us, which is kind of good. In my opinion, we've had two pretty good drafts. We've drafted a lot of players on this football team that are now contributing and playing and starting. We went into training camp with 42 players that were either first-year players or rookies. That's a lot of football players and a lot of young guys and that's the kind of direction we're heading in."
(on if Huard is on a short leash entering the season) "Well, I don't know about that. I just think we have to watch how we perform offensively. He's a guy that had demonstrated last year when he had to go in after game one that he was very capable of moving our offense and he did that. We scored some points; he won some games for us. Hopefully, he can do the same thing this year."
(on if the Texans are a team he sees coming into its own) "Yes, I think they have great ownership. The coach has done a good job of really implementing what he wants to do. You can see his vision starting to take place, especially with his offense and the defense, I think, is very good. They have some good athletes. They've got some good picks. They have a lot of high picks that are panning out for them and playing well for them."
(on if wide receiver Eddie Drummond is the number one returner for them) "Yes he is."
(on how Drummond has looked so far) "He's been ok. We got him late, obviously, but he's a good player that's a pretty good return guy. The thing we liked about him as a special teams guy, he can return punts, kicks, but he's also a flyer. He's a gunner. He's a bracket guy. He can run on the kickoff. He does everything. He's not just a return guy, he covers kicks, he does it all. Back in the old days when I played, those were called core special teams guy. You were a core special teams player when you played all of them and that's what he can do."
(on if Drummond reminded him that he had a huge game against the Texans while with Detroit) "No, I did not know that. But, they have a pretty good return guy now. The one kid that ran a couple punts back from Lane and then (Jerome) Mathis is a pretty good return guy. I know their special teams coach. I was able to work with Joe (Marciano) when we were in Tampa. He's my godfather, by the way, Joe Marciano. We kind of go back a long time together."
(on if wide receiver Jacoby Jones is a guy that the Chiefs have looked closely at) "Yes, no doubt about it. He's a very talented player. That's what you like to see in our league. You like to see young guys given an opportunity and then they take advantage of it because that's what the league is about. It's about younger players starting to get an opportunity and making a name for themselves. He's done a good job thus far."
(on if he has any stories about Joe Marciano for them) "No, they're all personal. Joe's a good guy. He's from back in Philadelphia. He was in Philadelphia when I was playing there and then we went down to Tampa with Tony (Dungy) together. We spent a lot time together, Joe Marciano and myself. I miss the guy. I really tried to hire him with the Jets, but it didn't work out. He ended up going down there and he's done a great job for them."
* Kansas City running back Larry Johnson (on how he feels going into the first game)*
"I feel fresh as far as you don't have camp legs. And everything else, I already knew the playbook, I know the players going in, so the thing that benefited me from training camp is that I've got fresher legs."
(on compliments about him made to the media by Texans players) "I take that in great respect because some of those guys I played with before, like (linebacker) Shawn Barber, and there's guys that I watched play college football when they were young pups. So I take that in great respect and admiration but at the same time, their job is to tackle me and have me for the most negative yards that they can, and I take that as a challenge."
(on Texans defensive end N.D. Kalu saying Johnson plays with anger) "I play the game as intense and aggressive as I can, and that's how I've always been used to running the football. And that's what you have to do to survive. You don't want to be looking at yourself as a failure. If you're going in, you rush for 50 yards, like anybody's going to be mad. So I put that chip on my shoulder as early as possible going into the game, knowing that I'm ready to play and it's going to be a long day regardless."
(on what concerns his squad about the Texans' defense) "Of course they had the rookie of the year as a linebacker. He's pretty good. That's where the fire comes, from the middle of that defense. And right now he's being able to come into this second year and to build off his last year as a rookie. I think he's going to give us a lot of problems and as far as the safeties and corners go, you know those guys are fast and quick to the ball."
(on what he thinks about Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson's physical style of play) "Like I said, they're great corners. Corners can do what they can do. But I've seen Robinson come up and smack somebody. I've seen him take on bigger guys than him. I respect him as far as that I know he's going to tackle me. He's not going to just be somebody I can just run over and keep running."
(on what he remembers from his last game in Houston, when he rushed for a Chiefs-record 211 yards) "I just remember going in there was a lot of carries, and just playing as hard as I can as possible. But I had so much fun playing that I didn't want to come out. And you know, numbers were just numbers, but I just was able to have fun and I love to play in that stadium. It was the first time I've been in a nice stadium like that, and it was an exciting game."
(on if he's particularly excited to play the Texans again because of that performance) "No, because I tried to do that with the Cincinnati Bengals when I rushed for 200 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in the last game of the season the year before and then came in and played them the first game and ended up didn't get barely 100 yards. Things change, defenses change, personnel changes, and I think they've probably done a lot of things where they're not going to let that stat happen again."
(on if he expects to get a full load of carries on Sunday) "It all depends on how the game is played, and obviously I want to try and stay in there as long as possible. But at the same time, I'm not going to rush myself back. I know I've got to get in terrific game shape. So we'll see how it goes during the game. There's going to be some times where I'm going to come out and be winded and there's going to be some times where I'm going to stay in for two or three drives. I've just got to push myself through it."
(on if he gets stronger as the game goes on and he gets more carries) "Yes. I think that's the whole point of my game and my attack. They can stop me in the first and second quarter. In the third and fourth quarter is when I really turn it on because like you said, I get stronger as the game goes on, I get stronger as the season goes on. So I know if anything I've got to be excited about is knowing I'm a good finisher."
(on if the Chiefs' offense has a different philosophy this year) "Not really. (You're) going to still see the same scheme, same style, we're going to do the same things we've always been doing and the things that we've been good at, regardless. And those guys have enough time to look at the playbook and know what they have to do, and we still stick to our game plan regardless of who's playing quarterback."
(on if he, quarterback Damon Huard and tackle Damion McIntosh are ready to play together) "I know I am. I don't know about D-Mac and how he's feeling and I don't know about Damon's feeling, but as far as me I'm ready to go, I'm 100% and ready to let loose. I'm pretty sure those guys are going to be fired when game time comes and be ready to play also."
(on if he thinks he has a shot at 2,000 yards rushing this season) "I don't really look at it as 2,000 yards. I mean, if I hit 1,700 again, I'm going to be the only guy in the NFL to ever rush for three seasons in a row over 1,700 yards. So I'm going to look at that as being my ceiling for right now, and if I can bust through that ceiling, if it's meant to be, it'll be."