Redskins running back Larry Johnson will put his ego aside

By Rick Maese and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 2, 2010; D02

Blog excerpt from

Though he's under contract with his third team in six months, running back Larry Johnson is not changing his approach. He's beginning his career in Washington with the same mind-set he took into every other season: that of a starter.

"I wouldn't come in and say I want to be the third guy or the fourth guy," Johnson said. "I just come in to work hard and wherever they have me on the depth chart is wherever they have me. But it's going to be all [based] off of how hard I work here."

Speaking with reporters Thursday for the first time since signing a free agent contract with the Redskins last month, Johnson said he has no problem splitting carries with Clinton Portis and feels he has to prove to Coach Mike Shanahan that he deserves playing time.

Though his actions away from the field prompted Kansas City to release him in the middle of last season and after the Cincinnati Bengals opted not to re-sign him after bringing him in for seven games, Johnson didn't want to trumpet his arrival in Washington as any sort of new beginning.

"I don't say it's a fresh start. I mean, there've 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. I don't want to say it's a fresh start. Being 30, your fresh starts are already gone. I definitely came in here with the mind-set of working hard for Coach Shanahan."

Playing against Shanahan's Denver teams in the AFC West, Johnson knows that Shanahan isn't shy about turning to multiple tailbacks. Portis, 28, is two years younger than Johnson, so shared carries could benefit both. "It's definitely better for both of us," Johnson said. "It'll take off the wear and tear and have us play longer and produce more results."

In Kansas City, Johnson wasn't shy about expressing discontent with his role in the offense. He says he comes to Washington knowing that he's not the featured back and doesn't feel like he has earned the privilege to complain.

"To me, at this point in time, you lose the [ability] to be able to speak up," he said. "You have to regain a respect as far as how many touches you can and can't have. I think in Kansas City, I thought I deserved more because I'd been there before any of the coaches got there.

"I think it's different here because I've got to re-work again to get myself back into how many carries I'm going to get per game."

Over the course of his seven-year career, Johnson has created numerous headlines for his off-the-field problems, most recently earning his release from Kansas City last fall for remarks he made on Twitter. He spoke at length with Shanahan before signing with the Redskins and says he doesn't anticipate having such problems in Washington.

"It's a trust. I trust them that they will do the right thing by my career," Johnson said. "And they trust me to do what's in the best interest of the organization."

QB Clausen coming for a visit

Former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen is scheduled to visit the Redskins beginning Friday, a league source confirmed Thursday. The Redskins also have scheduled a private workout with Clausen on April 15 in South Bend, Ind. After his trip to Ashburn, Clausen will travel to Cleveland to meet with the Browns.

Safety prospect Berry heads out

Former University of Tennessee star safety Eric Berry completed a two-day visit with the Redskins and is scheduled to return to Knoxville for a little break before resuming his draft tour shortly, he said Thursday afternoon.

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