Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan raised eyebrows in the offseason by building his running game around backs who peaked in 2006. Now only the team's favorite social commentator, Clinton Portis, remains on the roster after former Kansas City star Larry Johnson was released Tuesday.
Johnson, who seemed like an odd fit from the start, didn't make much of an impact in the running game. In fact, his 10-yard loss on a run in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans may have sealed his fate. It was obvious that Shanahan didn't have any faith in Johnson's ability because he only gave Johnson five carries in two games. The Skins are apparently comfortable going with undrafted rookie Keiland Williams out of LSU as Portis' primary backup.
"We were caught completely off guard by it," said Johnson's agent, Peter Schaffer. "It was not something that we were expecting. I was told by the Redskins that this was a short-term situation brought on by the need to have a special-teams running back, that they cannot afford the luxury of two starting running backs for this week."
The Redskins have the option of bringing Johnson back into the fold soon if he's not signed by another team, but I think Shanahan probably wants to see how Williams performs. The Redskins have a one-cut approach to the running game that doesn't really fit with Johnson's lumbering style.
To his credit, Johnson had accepted his limited role and hadn't caused any problems in the locker room.
Now we'll return to our regularly scheduled Michael Vick programming.