Archive for Sunday, November 5, 2006

Rams defense to get no rest

Chiefs’ Johnson provides another tough test

November 5, 2006


— A week after LaDainian Tomlinson steamrolled the St. Louis Rams, along comes Larry Johnson to administer more punishment.

Johnson, the Kansas City Chiefs' 230-pound feature back, likely is licking his chops. He had 155 yards on a franchise-record 39 carries and caught two passes for a total of 41 touches last week against the Seahawks, yet claimed no soreness the next day.

"My body feels fine," Johnson said. "I don't get hit. I give hits. I don't have to spend extra time anywhere."

Except maybe on stage. On Halloween, Johnson, impersonating coach Herman Edwards, took the podium to begin Edwards' weekly media briefing.

"That would be my little fun for the year," Johnson said. "He said, 'You've got me down pat,' and just sat in the back of the room and laughed."

Johnson is good enough that he can poke fun at the head coach, given that he scored four touchdowns last week and leads the NFL with 973 yards from scrimmage. He's generally considered the second-best running back in the AFC, trailing only Tomlinson.

"I think he's more physical," Rams defensive end Leonard Little said. "He's a bigger guy and he's more patient. He's hard to bring down."

Hard to silence, too. Johnson said his college experience at Penn State prepared him for success.

"We're not quick, slashing-type guys who need to run out of bounds, that's not how my body was conditioned," Johnson said. "My body is conditioned to take hits and take blows, so when people say 'Are you sore?' I'm not really sore."

The shiftier Tomlinson gouged the Rams (4-3) for 183 yards on 25 carries last week, an average of 7.3 yards. It was another distressing sign for the St. Louis defense, which has allowed 30 or more points in three of the last four games after a strong start to the season.

The Chiefs (4-3) and Chargers have similar attacks with big backs, strong offensive lines, depth in wide receivers and talented tight ends. Tony Gonzalez has had two straight 100-yard receiving games for Kansas City, coming off a 4-1 October.

"If we don't defend the same stuff we saw last week, we're going to get the same result," Little said. "That's our challenge, to defend the stuff we defended last week - or tried to defend."

The Rams won't find a weakness at quarterback, either, even though Trent Green will miss his seventh straight game with a concussion. Unheralded veteran Damon Huard is 4-2 as the stand-in starter and has thrown only one interception.


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