Larry Johnson will turn 32 in November, is coming off a season in which he had five carries for two yards, and hasn’t gained 1,000 yards in a season since 2006. But don’t tell Johnson he’s over the hill.
In his first comments after being signed by the Miami Dolphins, Johnson insisted that he doesn’t have much wear and tear on his body, noting that for all the carries he logged in Kansas City, he actually wasn’t a starter with the Chiefs for very long.
“I feel like I’m still in my 20s because I really never had to be thrown in as being a starter when I first got to Kansas City,” Johnson said. “I spent two or three years behind Priest [Holmes], two years on my own and then kind of moved on from there so I always felt that I was in good enough shape, body condition wise, to be able to play.”
It’s true that Johnson has only started 55 games — basically three and a half seasons — in his NFL career. But he has taken much, much more pounding than the average back, including an NFL-record 416 carries in 2006. The last time Johnson was a starter, in 2009, he averaged 2.9 yards a carry before the Chiefs cut him. He looked like he was shot last year, and it’s hard to see why he’d be any better now that he’s a year older.
Still, Johnson insists that he’s healthy and can perform at a high level.
“I haven’t gotten beaten up yet, you know, I’ve only had one injury in my whole nine-year career,” Johnson said. “I still feel fresher then some of the guys in the NFL . . . I feel a lot better than most backs.”
But it’s been a long time since Johnson looked a lot better than most backs.