Chiefs Deactivate Larry Johnson

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While everyone discussed a potential Tony Gonzalez trade, another issue burned in Kansas City. It centered on running back Larry Johnson, who this week was charged with this third off-the-field incident since he was drafted. It has nothing do with that particular incident, but Head Coach Herm Edwards announced Thursday that Johnson will not play Sunday against Tennessee.

"Larry is not suspended," he said. "I have to make a decision on the players that I have to deactivate, and Larry Johnson will be one of those players this weekend."

This was a bold move by Edwards. It was something he had to do in order to give his football team some stability and to clarify that he has full authority over that team when they're on the field.

Edwards is also no stranger to this sort of situation, as he did the same thing when he was in New York with the Jets, deactivating defensive end John Abraham over a driving-while-intoxicated event.

Edwards had been contemplating his decision on Johnson for some time now, but today he was forced to address the media when a radio report broke the news that the running back would not play this weekend. Why did Edwards wait until Thursday?

"I didn't need to talk about it," he said. "There is a lot of speculation. He broke some team rules and that's where that stands. I had a good talk with Larry on Wednesday and he understands where I'm coming from. He's practicing hard on the scout team and he understands that I have to make decisions that reflect my ability to lead this football team."

This signals an end to the distractions the Chiefs have been dealing with. The players had hoped to re-charge their collective batteries over the bye week, but instead Arrowhead Stadium has become a hotbed of controversy, and that's not healthy for any football team trying to climb out of a 1-4 hole.

Now the Chiefs must face a red hot and undefeated Tennessee Titans team Sunday without their star running back. Second-year back Kolby Smith will get the start and rookie Jamaal Charles will also receive carries.

"Larry is the superstar of this offense," said Charles. "This is a big thing so me and Kolby (Smith) can show everyone what we are capable of doing."

Whether Johnson returns to the starting lineup the following week in New York against the Jets remains to be seen. Edwards would only commit to his running back's status for this weekend's contest.

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