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It’s not like he hasn’t already been carrying the load.
Johnson, who leads the NFL in carries and rushing yards, tries to run the Chiefs to their third straight win Sunday when they visit the Cleveland Browns.
The Chiefs (7-4), whose only playoff appearance in their previous eight seasons came in 2003, announced Tuesday that Holmes would miss the entire season because of head and neck trauma. It places more of a burden on Johnson with Kansas City just two games back of San Diego in the AFC West.
“I’m looking forward to playing the next couple of opponents and hopefully lock up a playoff berth and get to the Super Bowl,” said Johnson, who has rushed for 1,202 yards on 282 attempts this season.
While leading the Chiefs to a 5-1 record over the last six games, Johnson has rushed for 845 yards and 10 touchdowns on 177 attempts.
“When you are having fun, you don’t take a look at how many carries you have,” Johnson said after he rushed for 157 yards and a TD on 34 carries in the Chiefs’ 19-10 home win over Denver on Thanksgiving night. “You just go out there and try to compete as hard as you can and put your team in a position to win.”
The only time Johnson had fewer than 27 carries or 132 yards during the six-game stretch was when he had 75 yards on 18 attempts in a Nov. 12 loss at Miami.
“I’m not going to wear him out,” said first-year Chiefs coach Herman Edwards, whose team is 2-3 on the road this season. “That’s what good runners want. They want the ball. Larry made the statement earlier in the season he doesn’t get warmed up until after about 25 carries. You ask for something, you get it.”
The Chiefs hope Johnson can continue to support quarterback Trent Green, who will make his third start since suffering a concussion in Week 1. Green completed 13 of 22 passes for 161 yards—both season highs—with an interception against the Broncos.
“I’ll throw passes when it’s time to throw passes,” Edwards said.
Cleveland (3-8) is the NFL’s eighth-worst team against the run, allowing an average of 133.5 yards on the ground per game.
The Browns continued their offensive struggles last week and fell to 1-5 at home with a 30-0 loss to Cincinnati. Cleveland had 167 yards—21 rushing— after the third quarter against a Bengals team that entered allowing the most yards per game in the NFL.
“This is pretty low,” Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. “Last year, I was pretty low, too. I wasn’t really expecting this.”
The frustration has also reached the players.
Receiver Braylon Edwards approached Charlie Frye and grabbed him by the jersey after the quarterback threw an interception last week. Their teammates had to separate them, but Edwards continued to rant. Edwards apologized on Monday.
“Me and Braylon are fine,” said Frye, who was intercepted four times to give him 16 on the season—the second most in the league. “Our biggest opponent right now is us. We have to get on the same page and fight together. We have to stop fighting each other and start playing against the other team. If not, we are not going to win many games.”
Cleveland is 31st in the NFL with 252.0 yards of offense per game, and 30th in scoring with 15.5 points a contest.
The Chiefs have averaged 40.5 points in winning both meetings with Cleveland since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999.