Chiefs LB Johnson having standout season

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It’s not that he makes an effort.

“It’s natural,” he said. “And I like that it’s natural. Sometimes when you get into that (motivation) thing _ ‘Man, I’ve got to do something to make myself get up,’ that’s not going to happen. I’m such a nice guy off the field, it’s amazing how I can get on the field and have a quick temper. A crazy temper.”

So off the field, he never gets mad at anything?

“I can’t say that. But I have a control of myself off the field.”

When Haley took over as head coach in 2009, Johnson was known as an underachiever, a first-round draft pick who’d never lived up to the billing that came with his winning the Butkus Award as the nation’s best college linebacker.

The first year under Haley was the most miserable of his career. He hardly ever started.

But during training camp in 2010, he said he was a better player than he’d been, and went out and finally established himself as NFL linebacker to be reckoned with. He led the AFC West champs with 147 tackles. He had one game where he intercepted two passes and returned them for touchdowns.

But not even that eclipsed what he did Sunday in Oakland when the Chiefs, after an 0-3 start, evened their record at 3-3 and set up a Monday night showdown with San Diego that’ll have first place in the AFC West on the line.

Derrick’s game was as good as I’ve seen him,” Haley said. “A couple of plays he made were truly just monster plays in the game as far as keeping it, going the direction we wanted it to go. He was right in the middle of it so many times.”

In practice, even Johnson’s teammates were impressed with how he was doing.

“I heard players talking during practice last week. Derrick hit somebody on one of the days we were in pads and somebody said, ‘He’s a striker.’ He can be cruising along and, ‘Bam!’ He has that ability to leverage and knock people around. some of those plays (against Oakland) were just phenomenal.”

As long as he has football as an outlet, Derrick Johnson is not likely to get mad at anything.

“I like football because on the field, that temper can go off and it’s great,” he said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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