Johnson’s getting better

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nico Johnson (right) watches practice at Andalusia with former defensive coach, Marshall Locke Tuesday. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nico Johnson (right) watches practice at Andalusia with former defensive coach, Marshall Locke Tuesday. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nico Johnson said he believes the only undefeated team in the NFL hasn’t played its best ball yet.

The Andalusia native and former University of Alabama standout is in town this week as the Chiefs have a bye week.

On Sunday, Kansas City defeated the Buffalo Bills 23-13 to improve to 9-0 on the season. Next week, Johnson and the rest of the team will face a tough challenge at Mile High Stadium against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

Johnson said the Chiefs are still working toward playing their best.

“That’s our mind set,” he said. “We’re not playing against our opponent, even though we respect our opponent. We’re playing against perfection. That’s what we’re working toward.”

The playing against perfection mantra isn’t anything new to Johnson, who heard it not only at Alabama, but from his playing days at AHS.

When asked if other players on the Chiefs team had heard of the saying, Johnson said some of the older guys have, but most haven’t.

“Responding the right way — that’s what is helping us out so far,” he said. “Everybody’s together, supporting one another.”

Kansas City’s defense so far this season has allowed an average of 12 points per game. The Chiefs, so far, have faced potent offenses in the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles.

An ankle injury during the latter part of the preseason hampered Johnson from playing ball for the Chiefs.

It wasn’t until week six when Johnson saw any sort of playing time as a part of the special teams unit.

Johnson said he’s thankful for the opportunity Kansas City head coach Andy Reid has given him on special teams, but is still waiting to play at the position he’s known for many years.

“I’m going to be waiting on that opportunity (to play at linebacker),” he said. “If I get it, I’m going to take advantage of it.”

Getting to see his first action as a professional in week six was a little nerve-wracking, Johnson said.

“I started off in boot camp and I was in a good rhythm, then the injury kind of set me back,” he said. “I was kind of thinking do I still got it or whatever because my ankle was still bothering me in week six. I was able to push through and it kind of got better.”

Johnson said the ankle is feeling really good and that the bye week comes at a great time for the team in the lead-up to the game next week in Denver.

“I know we didn’t play our best ball on defense last week,” he said. “We gave up too many yards running and passing, too many explosive plays. Peyton’s good. He’s the greatest, if not the best. We’re going to have to buckle down a lot more and make him one dimensional, and get after him.”

Throughout training camp, the preseason games and in action the past three games, Johnson said he’s grown a lot as a player.

Nowadays, the Andalusia native is making sure he’s having more fun out on the field, whether it be during practice or a game.

“From my first day there until now, the one thing I’ve really gotten better at is playing faster,” Johnson said. “At ‘Bama, I took it more as a business, even though it’s a business now.

“I’ve got to be on my stuff every day,” he said. “There’s a guy behind me or in front of me (on the depth chart) who is just as good, and trying to feed his family. I got a whole lot better, but I’ve got a lot to improve on.”

Additionally, Johnson said he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the support from his hometown family.

“I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunity and maybe one day it’ll be another kid or whatever who’ll have the same opportunity,” Johnson said.