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Larry Johnson And Willie Parker Know What's At Stake Tonight

Posted by Matt Terl on September 2, 2010 – 2:53 pm

It’s going to be tough — if not impossible — for this team to carry Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker on the roster together. We’ve all known this since training camp. But just because it’s become part of the conventional wisdom of the 2010 preseason doesn’t make it any less strange to hear Kyle Shanahan lay it out as plainly as he did earlier this week.

Kelli Johnson of Comcast SportsNet asked Shanahan the question frankly enough: “Can you really keep three backs, though, that aren’t gonna contribute on special teams?”

And Kyle Shanahan answered with equal frankness: “No,” he said. “That’s always tough. If you have three guys up, one of ’em’s gotta contribute on special teams.”

If the bluntness was surprising, though, the news wasn’t, even to Johnson and Parker themselves. Read more »

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Larry Johnson Talks About His Post-TD Dunk

Posted by Matt Terl on August 29, 2010 – 1:58 pm

Larry Johnson got his wish on Friday, some extra playing time to help make up for his disappointing performance against the Ravens the week before. “I knew I needed that second game just to feel a little more comfortable going out there against another tough defense and be able to put some things together,” Johnson said, and put some things together he did.

Johnson finished the game with 9 carries for 42 yards and a fifteen-yard catch-and-run on a screen pass for a touchdown, which certainly helps Johnson’s preseason stats as well as his confidence. But Johnson doesn’t seem to think it had much effect on the coaches’ decisions either way. “I think it helped me out, but camp lasts longer than one preseason game.”

Johnson celebrated his touchdown by dunking the ball over the goalposts, which created an attractive picture for Saturday’s Washington Post Sports section (and video, below) but which might have seemed a bit excessive for the fourth quarter of a preseason game.

But Johnson doesn’t see it that way. Read more »

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Scenes From A Rough Evening

Posted by Matt Terl on August 22, 2010 – 12:12 am

The big story in the locker room was, obviously, Albert Haynesworth spouting off again. I am beyond tired of this ongoing drama, so if you want to read about that, check out Rich Campbell’s transcript over at the Free Lance-Star and thrill to the annoyance.

But Haynesworth didn’t really need to speak up, because there were plenty of other negative things to explore in the post-game locker room. Here’s a few.

Chris Wilson’s Head

The final injury of the game, pictured above, was Chris Wilson losing his helmet and writhing in agony during the fourth quarter. “Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you,” Wilson said. I asked how it was, and he shrugged. “It hurts. It hurts a little bit.”

No stitches, he said, “but it’s swelling on me — as you can see.” This was true. There was a knot on Wilson’s head the size of a nine-volt battery, along with a bandage. But Wilson declined to be compared to the most recent major facial injury in the NFL.

Eli Manning scraped his head,” Wilson explained. “I busted my head. Eli Manning probably had more blood, though.”

(London Fletcher, passing by at this point, noted, “Eli Manning was leaking.”)

Ultimately, though, Wilson said he was fine and dismissed the incident philosophically. “Game ain’t meant to be played without a helmet,” he said.

Then there was….
Read more »

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Another Pair Of Larry Johnson's Shoes

Posted by Matt Terl on August 10, 2010 – 1:57 pm

Last time I wrote about Larry Johnson‘s shoes, the customization on the back read “Truck Stick,” a combined reference to Madden football and Johnson’s bruising running style. Today, it was pointed out to me that his shoes read “Big Payback,” so I figured that a follow-up was in order.

Turns out it may be the second in a series. “I got a couple of ’em that people haven’t really seen yet,” Johnson told me after practice. (A good practice for him, too. The team was working on installing some goal line stuff, and Johnson was clearly in that mix.)

So, why “Big Payback”? Read more »

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Wale And Larry Johnson Are Watching Out For Each Other

Posted by Matt Terl on August 4, 2010 – 3:22 pm

Last time we checked in with D.C.-born hip-hop star Wale (pronounced wah-LAY), he was performing a couple of his hits at halftime of the Dallas game in a throwback Redskins jacket. That was back in 2009, as things were cratering out for that star-crossed squad, in a contest that I described at the time as “another disappointing game in a continually disappointing season.”

But it’s 2010 now, time to put the past away and look forward into a brave new future of awesomeness. So when Wale showed up at training camp today, I asked him what he had seen that gave him hope. “I actually haven’t had a chance to see too much,” he said. “But we were trying to get on the field ourselves. You know, I live vicariously through a couple of these people, man.”

I did know this. I did a fairly wide-ranging interview with Wale about his Redskins fandom last year, but running back Larry Johnson wasn’t on the team then, so I was surprised to hear that was one of Wale’s pals on the team.

“I was actually friends with him before he became a Redskin,” Wale told me. “I’m excited to get him in town, and I’m here to keep him out of trouble.” Read more »

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Larry Johnson's Shoes

Posted by Matt Terl on August 3, 2010 – 9:48 am

Larry Johnson, despite his reputation as a less-than-loquacious dude, has rapidly established himself as one of the more interesting guys to talk to about the off-the-field aspects of football. He’s a voracious student of NFL history, a former football card collector, and an avid videogame player, and he’s proved willing to chat about all those things.

Also, he’s got these shoes, custom-made through NikeID, black and gold with Truck on the back of the left foot and Stick on the back of the right foot.

People who have played the Madden Football videogame since the 06 version know what the truck stick is — a flick of the right control stick that causes the running back to lower his shoulder and take on a would-be tackler. But that doesn’t immediately explain why it’s on Larry Johnson’s shoes. Read more »

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Larry Johnson Ready To Cheer For John Wall

Posted by Matt Terl on June 1, 2010 – 3:13 pm

Larry Johnson, as previously noted (and noted, and noted and so on), grew up a Redskins fan and still maintains rooting ties to old neighborhood. So it’s kind of fortunate for him that he’s moved back in time to for the arrivals of Stephen Strasburg and whomever the Wizards take with the first pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

The only Redskins player I’ve talked to about the NBA Draft was Jeremy Jarmon, a Kentucky guy, and he predictably suggested that they should draft John Wall, the star point guard from Kentucky. But Larry Johnson approaches it from the other side, as a D.C. sports fan, so I asked his opinion as well.

“I think it’s gonna be Wall,” he told me. “I hope so. It would go well with the momentum and the feeling and the mood of trying to pick the organization up to move on to better things. I think that’s the best pick.”

And would you go check out a game?
Read more »

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Larry Johnson's Original Plan For Success

Posted by Matt Terl on June 1, 2010 – 10:06 am

It’s been pretty well-documented that new Redskins running back Larry Johnson grew up a Redskins fan in the D.C. area in the 1980s. This means that if he wanted to root for a Major League Baseball team, his options were basically the Baltimore Orioles or nothing. And, like many of us, he elected to root for the Orioles.

So when I heard that he had gone to an Orioles/Nats game and seen Josh Willingham hit a 10th inning walk-off home run, I wondered if he was still rooting for the squad of his childhood, or if Johnson — also like many of us — had transferred his affections over to the new guys closer to home.

“Nah,” he said, “I don’t bandwagon like that. I remember when they were the Senators, though, way back in the day.”

I know that Johnson is a student of sports history, but remembering a baseball team that ceased to exist eight years before he was even born seemed … unlikely, to say the least.
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Why Larry Johnson Always Finishes His Runs

Posted by Matt Terl on May 11, 2010 – 11:24 am

One of the things I noticed during this latest mini-camp (and tweeted about, actually) was that Larry Johnson always finishes his runs in the end zone. Most guys, once they’ve gotten through the scripted portion of the play and into the open field (so to speak), will run a little bit before pulling up. Sometimes there’ll be a bit of a run for the goal line — Clinton Portis seems to enjoy doing this while whooping and hollering every so often — but it’s usually not at full practice speed, let alone full game speed.

Johnson, though, puts his head down and really runs.

“Dick Vermeil taught us that,” Johnson told me, “and it kinda stuck with me. James Saxon was my first running backs coach when I got into the league, and that’s what the expectation [was]. Coming behind Priest [Holmes], he finished EVERY run. So I think that kind of fed off to me that that’s what we had to do when we practiced was finish every run.”

I was wrong about one thing, though:
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In Fairness To Gary Clark

Posted by Matt Terl on March 16, 2010 – 12:30 pm

When Larry Johnson signed on Friday, he told me a story about former Redskins great Gary Clark. It was a story about how Johnson grew up a Redskins fan and about why Johnson tries to sign every autograph the fans ask for; I thought it showed a different side of a guy who has some knocks against him, so I posted it.

It didn’t occur to me at the time that it could be perceived as a slight to Clark, though. When Johnson told the story, it was in the context of how much he looked up to those guys and how enthusiastically he rooted for the team. His tone wasn’t critical or negative toward Clark, but reading it cold I can certainly see how it was taken that way by some.

In addition to comments like those linked above, the blog Fatpickled posted an even more detailed memory of an autograph encounter with Clark:

I was visiting Redskins Park in January of 1988, the last day before the Redskins headed off to San Diego to completely destroy the Broncos 42-10. I arrived early that day and was the only person in the lobby when Gary Clark walked right by me at a brisk pace, headed upstairs to where the admin offices were located. I quickly asked Gary if he would sign an autograph for me, he informed me that he was in a hurry and could not sign for me. Even at 13 years old, I remember this being a WTF moment? I’m the only person in this lobby and he’s not going to take 30 seconds to sign for me? He spent more time explaining why he couldn’t sign than it actually would have taken to sign. I was bummed.

Later, though, when Redskins Park had gotten crowded, this is what happened to young Fatpickle:

As I was sitting on the stairs watching all the mayhem, I heard a psst, psst noise coming from the 2nd floor above my head. As I turned and looked up I was amazed to see Gary Clark waving me up the stairs. I collected my things and bounded up the stairs to meet Gary and who else should be sitting up on the 2nd floor…Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen, who was enjoying a large cigar. Gary happily signed for me and even promised to catch a TD for me in the Super Bowl (he did.) As an added bonus I was able to also secure the autographs of 2 Hall of Famers.

So there you go: Johnson’s story wasn’t meant to sound negative, and it wasn’t nearly representative of the guy that Gary Clark was all the time. Now that that’s all cleared up, let’s enjoy these fantastic pictures from Clark’s appearance in the 1991 Pro Bowl.

(Click images to see a larger version.) Read more »

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