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Johnson's Ready For His Redskins Debut


Larry Johnson seems to have a knack for making himself stand out.

He finishes every play strong in practice. He signs every autograph request at training camp.

Johnson believes he shares a part of himself with everyone who watches him play.

"You have to bring your personality in anything you do," he said. "And coming in and playing for the Redskins -- it's a step up. Now you really have to put your past behind you and put the best you can on the field so that people understand who you are as a football player and as a person."

Johnson gets to show off his personality -- and his power running -- this Saturday night when the Redskins host the Baltimore Ravens at FedExField in Week 2 of preseason.

Johnson is expected to draw the start.

Redskins coaches are rotating running backs through preseason. Clinton Portis started against the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 13 and posted 22 yards on six carries. Willie Parker is expected to start on Aug. 27 against the New York Jets.

Said Johnson: "I'm excited for this weekend. Last weekend was Clinton's turn and it's great that we do the rotation like that because everybody gets a shot to stand out longer without coming in and out of the game."

Johnson did not play against the Bills in the first preseason game, so Saturday night's contest vs. Baltimore is his Redskins debut.

In eight NFL seasons spent mostly with the Kansas City Chiefs, Johnson has made two trips to the Pro Bowl. He has rushed for 6,219 career yards and 55 touchdowns and caught 154 career passes for 1,373 yards and six touchdowns.

The Redskins signed the 6-1, 235-pound Johnson on March 12 as a free agent.

"I like working under Coach [Mike] Shanahan," Johnson said. "I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and what he's accomplished as far as winning Super Bowls. He makes outstanding play calls and puts together outstanding rosters, so it's great to be part of this."

Johnson has absorbed a lot of hard hits in his NFL tenure, but he feels refreshed after just 178 carries last year.

He also has a sense of urgency about him, Shanahan said.

"He is going to get an opportunity to showcase his talent and I think he is looking forward to the opportunity," Shanahan said. "Some players are hungry. When I was with Jerry Rice at 40 [years of age], he was just as hungry as he was at 25 or 28. There are different mindsets with players. Larry looks like he is very motivated."

Johnson, 30, knows this could be his last opportunity in a league where its rare for running backs to play more than 10 seasons.

"That's& why I come out to practice and go as hard as I can," he said. "I want to give myself every opportunity to do a good job. You have to practice and play with a sense of urgency."

It's no secret that the Redskins have an open competition at running back between Portis, Johnson and Parker.

Also, backups Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams may have run themselves into the picture with strong performances against Buffalo. Torain had 62 yards on 17 carries and Williams had 51 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.

Johnson said he thrives off competition.

"You have to," he said. "If you don't then you're in the wrong business."

Johnson believes the rotation among the running backs this preseason is fair.

"The depth chart doesn't change from just one preseason game," he said. "We were competing as soon as we stepped foot in here for OTAs and mini-camp and training camp. So we need to go out there like we have been doing in practice and play hard and do the best we can."

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