Not a 'fresh start, but a 'different era' for new Redskins RB Johnson

ASHBURN, Va. -- Apparently, all Larry Johnson needs is "a coach who cares."

The running back spoke to reporters Thursday for the first time since signing with the Washington Redskins last month. He finished last season with the Cincinnati Bengals, but his off-the-field issues in 6½ seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs have threatened to overshadow his career.

Johnson was suspended twice during his final 12 months with the Chiefs. He also posted a gay slur on his Twitter account, insulted fans and questioned first-year head coach Todd Haley's competence.

Asked if those episodes caused him to do any soul-searching, Johnson said: "Nah, I just had to be with a coach who cares and knows what has to be done to put our team in the best situation to win. Being in that situation really wasn't the best for my career or the best for the organization."

Johnson said he was more comfortable with the Bengals and expects to feel the same way with the Redskins under coach Mike Shanahan.

"It's a trust," Johnson said. "I trust them that they would do the right thing for my career, and they trust me to do what's in the best interests of the organization."

That said, Johnson wouldn't call his joining the Redskins a "fresh start."

"I mean, there have been so many fresh starts I've done had," he said. "This is more like I'm just going into a different era of my own -- pretty much coming in here and being here and trying to work as hard as I can to impress the coaches and to see where it goes from there. Being 30, your fresh starts are already gone."

It will be curious to watch the dynamics of a Redskins backfield consisting of Johnson and Clinton Portis -- two players used to starting, known to speak their minds and both fighting the perception that their careers are in decline.

"I think people get misunderstood as far as when you come in and there's two guys that's always been starters, to come in and there's supposed to be some sort of beef, but it's not," Johnson said. "We don't even talk about football. We just joke around basically, and he goes his way and I go my way. ... We kind of complement each other. It's not, 'I'm coming here to take your spot.'

"I wouldn't come in and say I want to be the third guy or the fourth guy. I just come in to work hard, and wherever they have me on the depth chart is wherever they have me."

Johnson said he still has a lot left. Johnson is two years older, but Portis has 50 percent more NFL carries.

"This is really me just kind of smoothing on out, kind of like a Cadillac," Johnson said. "It never really loses its luster. It just kind of moves on in."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.