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Redskins Sign Johnson to Strengthen Ground Game


The Redskins have signed free agent running back Larry Johnson, the team announced on Friday.

Johnson, 6-1 and 230 pounds, is a big, bruising back who has compiled 6,219 rushing yards and 55 touchdowns in eight seasons spent mostly with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Along the way, he earned two Pro Bowl berths and 2006 All-Pro accolades.

Johnson joins Clinton Portis, another two-time Pro Bowler, in the Redskins' backfield.

Johnson, who grew up in Pomfret, Md., called the signing a "dream come true."

"Being from the Maryland area, [I] grew up watching the Redskins," Johnson said during a brief interview at Redskins Park on Friday. "That's what was on the TV, the Redskins and Cowboys...There's just so much history. I used to go to their camps--Gary Clark, Art Monk, all of those guys were there.

"It's great to be in a city with all my family and friends and everybody I basically went to high school and college with that's still down here. So it's fun."

Added head coach Mike Shanahan: "We are excited to bring in a running back that has had so much success in this league. Larry is a physical runner who will be a great addition to our backfield."

Johnson, 30, played seven-and-a-half seasons with the Chiefs before he was released midseason last year. He joined the Cincinnati Bengals to close out the season.

In addition to his career rushing yards and touchdowns, Johnson has a 4.4 yards-per-carry average for his career.

As a receiver out of the backfield, he has caught 154 passes for 1,373 yards and six touchdowns.

Johnson has not been without some off-the-field issues in his career, but it's hoped that he has put those incidents behind him as he returns to Washington.

Johnson entered the NFL as a first-round draft pick (27th overall) by the Chiefs in 2003. He played college football at Penn State.

Johnson had his two best NFL seasons in 2005-06, when he became just the third running back in NFL history to produce 1,750 rushing yards in consecutive years.

Johnson owns the top two single-season rushing totals in Chiefs franchise history with 1,789 rushing yards in 2006 and 1,750 in 2005. His 1,789 rushing yards were a career high and his 416 rushing attempts that year marked an NFL single-season record.

In addition, Johnson has three of the top five single-game rushing marks in Chiefs history, including a 211-yard rushing performance at Houston on Nov. 20, 2005.

In 2005, Johnson rushed for 1,750 on 336 carries (5.2 yards-per-carry average) despite starting just nine games for the Chiefs.

Johnson's father, Larry Johnson, Sr., played for the Redskins in 1974. He would later become head coach at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., and then move on to become an assistant coach at Penn State. He currently is defensive line coach for the Nittany Lions.

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