Johnson says Edwards picks him as Chiefs RB

Larry Johnson will be the Kansas City Chiefs starting running back next season regardless of Priest Holmes' health.

Johnson said new coach Herman Edwards gave him the role during their first meeting Tuesday.

"He told me I would be the guy going into training camp and that I should start the season prepared to start," Johnson told the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Johnson finished the season with nine straight 100-yard games, 1,750 yards and 20 touchdowns (plus one receiving) after Holmes was put on the disabled list Nov. 9 with head and neck trauma.

"[Edwards] said, I want to tell you this now that when we get going, you'll have to be the guy on this team who is the leader and gets things done," Johnson added Wednesday on ESPN's "Cold Pizza."

Holmes, the team's all-time rusher, said in November that he plans to play next season if tests show encouraging results.

"Pounding is just a part of football. But I love this sport and
it's really been very good to me. I'm not one to look 20 or 30
years down the road. I really look at the next two, three, five
years. I really see myself playing, hoping the situation with the
tests I take in the next 60 days comes back positive. Regardless of
that, I still have to sit down and make a decision."

Holmes saw specialists in California and Florida after
sustaining a concussion on Oct. 30 and was told to avoid contact
for at least 30 days. His 27 touchdowns in 2003 were a
single-season record (Shan Alexander of Seattle broke it with 28 this season) and the 66 touchdowns he scored from 2002-04 are the most in any three-year period.

The injury, which he described as a pressure on his spine, has
never been painful and is not necessarily a threat to cause
paralysis, he said.

"The main concern was that [doctors] wanted to know if there
was pressure on the spine," he said. "If there's pressure on the
spine, of course if you're hit there's a number of things that
could possibly happen. Would those things happen to me? It hasn't
happened yet.

"So I'm very, very confident about the recovery time and the
number of things I have to go through."

For two years, Johnson sulked about having to play behind Holmes. Many wrote him off as just a hotheaded kid who didn't know what he was talking about. But now that he has gotten his chance to be the featured back, he has backed up everything he said -- and then some.

"I predicted what Larry would be in his rookie year, sitting behind closed doors," then Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said in December. "The only thing I asked him to do was be patient and take the time it takes to become what you have the ability to be.

"He was very impatient. Part of it was caused by his passion to play the game. Part of it was caused because we had a great running back in Priest Holmes."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.