Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson: "I'm itching to get back"

The veteran linebacker is looking forward to training camp beginning on August 1

The days are long and the weather is typically hot.

That's a simple picture of what Kansas City Chiefs players have to look forward to at training camp.

Sure, it's one of the most important times of the year in the development of the team and building upon the success they want to have, but that doesn't mean it isn't a grind for the guys putting it on the line every day.

So for an 11-year NFL veteran like Derrick Johnson to genuinely look forward to that grind, that's a passion for the game manifesting itself through the lack of on-field time a season ago, when Johnson was put on IR after rupturing his Achilles in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans.

"I can't wait until training camp," Johnson said. "You know what, I missed a lot of football last year and I'm itching to get back."

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Johnson's return to the field for OTAs and minicamp was only an appetizer, because even he knew it wasn't the real thing.

"I'm a defensive guy and we're running around in shorts and shirts, that's not real football," he said. "Sometimes the offense is clapping when [they] catch a ball over the middle, and I'm like 'come on man, I would have got them on that one.' But OTAs is a good time for the offense to not be getting hit, to actually see some looks, get some passes and get some confidence going.

"Because when we get to training camp, there will be a lot more hitting."

The competitiveness of Johnson, which is evident to anyone who's ever been near him during a practice, even comes out when just talking about going up against his offensive teammates at training camp.

"The audience always loves the offense when they score," he said. "We're going to give them a little taste."

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During the time between minicamp and the start of training camp, which lasts about six weeks, Johnson will make sure his body is ready to go for the 2015 season by training down in Austin, Texas.

He'll be joined by Chiefs teammate Jamaal Charles, former Texas Longhorn and current Tennessee Titan linebacker Brian Orakpo, among others.  

"There's probably about 10 of us," Johnson said. "Young guys still at Texas, whoever went there comes back and we all work out together. When we get out there running different drills, seeing what people have in one-on-ones—that competitiveness comes out."

Johnson's main focus is making sure he's ready to go when he reports to camp, which means being smart with his training, but also pushing himself to be the playmaker he's proven to be throughout his career in Kansas City.

"You can't back off, you have to be ready when you come here for training camp," Johnson said. "I will be smart and listen to my body at times when I am tired, but coach Reid runs a hard camp. If you take it easy during the summertime and save too much of your body, you'll be a little bit behind."

Heading into 2015, Johnson is just 15 tackles shy of breaking the Chiefs all-time record, currently held by Gary Spani with 999.

"That would mean a lot," Johnson said of the record. "That just lets you know that all the hard work paid off. Throughout my career, I've accomplished a lot and had different accolades, but I always conquered what I was doing at the time. I never looked too far ahead and this is another thing.

Top shots of the Chiefs LB, Derrick Johnson from the 2013 season.

"When I first came into the league, I was just trying to get the grasp of it, trying to be a Pro Bowl player and now I have the opportunity to break the all-time record. I've been really blessed."

Because of his 985 career tackles and having already established himself as one of the greatest defensive players in franchise history, the Chiefs are looking forward to getting Johnson, their leader, back on the field.


Fans can check out Johnson and the rest of his teammates at training camp starting on August 1.

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