Chiefs may go forward Sunday without RB Johnson for 2nd game
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Coach Herm Edwards hinted Tuesday that Kansas City running back Larry Johnson, under NFL investigation for allegedly assaulting a woman, could be benched for a second straight game regardless of what the league decides.
"Decisions of all that will take place when it has to be made," Edwards said. "I don't have to make a decision on who's starting, not starting. That's kind of where that's at. Whatever I do, hopefully I think you know me by now, people know me by now, I'm going to do the right thing for the football team. That's where it stands with me."
Johnson, a two-time Pro Bowler who rushed for more than 1,700 yards in both 2005 and 2006, was not activated last week as punishment for violating team rules. Since then, it's become known that a young woman alleges that Johnson spat on her several times during an argument at a local nightspot this month.
No charges have been filed, but it's the fourth time in five years Johnson has been accused of assaulting a woman. Police are looking into the allegations and Chiefs president Carl Peterson acknowledged the league has also taken the matter under investigation.
"The league has contacted me specifically about the Larry Johnson situation," Peterson said. "And based upon the player personnel conduct code, we can have no more comment."
Peterson also said he did not know when the league might make a determination on whether to suspend Johnson. The troubled running back, who got a guaranteed $19 million when he signed a contract extension last year, also faces a Dec. 3 court date on a charge of simple assault -- an incident involving an allegation with another woman at another nightspot last February.
"I don't know how fast they move on these things," Peterson said. "They have a lot of problems to address at the league level. I think the commissioner moves through these as fast as they can. I do know they are investigating it and that's what their responsibility is. They have assured us they are doing that and we can have no further comment."
Edwards indicated he might not wait for the league to take action.
"But even before that, I think we have to do our due diligence as a football organization, too," Edwards said. "You can't wait on other people to do your work for you in certain situations. We make decisions in this organization for what's best for the football team. I do it that way.
"I've always done it that way as a head coach. We believe in doing it that way," he added. "When the National Football League steps in, that's a whole entire different situation. They have the decisions they make. We have the decisions we make as a football team."
A message left with Johnson's agent seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Edwards and Peterson both said they were "extremely disappointed" that Johnson was involved in another allegation. But that wasn't even the most pressing personnel problem for the Chiefs (1-5), who have been blown out three times and may be down to their third-team quarterback.
They spent Monday and Tuesday contacting and working out unemployed quarterbacks and faced the prospect of going into their game at the New York Jets on Sunday with only Tyler Thigpen and fourth-teamer Ingle Martin.
Starter Brodie Croyle is out for the season after sustaining ACL and MCL injuries to his left knee in the first half against Tennessee on Sunday. Backup Damon Huard injured the thumb on his throwing hand later in the game and saw a specialist on Tuesday. His availability was very much in question.
Whatever player they bring in could do very little this week.
"Hold a clipboard, basically. Jot down the plays," Edwards said. "That's what they'd have to do."
Edwards said it would be at least "a couple of weeks" before a new quarterback could possibly be ready to start.
"If it's a veteran guy, maybe a little shorter time," he said. "But it's going to take a couple weeks to learn the system. You can't just throw the guy in there."
The Chiefs also switched kickers, releasing Nick Novak, who missed twice on Sunday, and signing rookie Connor Barth, who was beaten out by Novak in a close competition in August.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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