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In Redskins Backfield, Johnson Will Pack Power


Maybe he's not what he used to be. Maybe he is. The Redskins will soon find out.

Larry Johnson is their marquee strike in free agency thus far, a power running back who rushed for more than 3,500 yards and scored 40 touchdowns rushing and receiving in two brilliant seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (2005-06).

The Chiefs' coaching changes and remade offensive style shortened Johnson's stay with the team that made him a No. 1 pick in 2003 and used him sparingly behind Priest Holmes his first two seasons.

Head coach Mike Shanahan certainly saw enough of Johnson when he coached against him in the AFC West. LJ put up 151 on the ground in a 45-17 Kansas City win in 2004, 140 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-27 victory the following year.

In 2006, he managed a piddling 106 in a Chiefs' loss to Denver and then bounced back with 157 in a late-season victory.

At 6-1, 230 pounds, Johnson can run with power. He split last season with Kansas City, which had nothing going for it, and the Cincinnati Bengals, who won the AFC North with another reclamation project, Cedric Benson, as the starting running back.

Johnson chipped in with 46 rushes for 204 yards in his seven games with Cincy.

The Redskins now have Clinton Portis penciled in as the No. 1 back and Anthony Alridge around as the speedy, change-up guy. There's also the untested P.J. Hill.

And now there's the bullish Johnson.

The Chiefs nearly wore him out in 2005-06 by handing him the ball 752 times and throwing it to him another 74. He hasn't had such a workload since.

If he's rested and ready, he adds a dimension to a backfield that last year lacked both power and outside speed.

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