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lin hong Oct 18 '18

Derrick Johnson’s tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs is coming to an end.

The franchise’s career tackles leader and a four-time Pro Bowl selection [url=http://www.officialflames.com/...-troy-brouwer-jersey]Troy Brouwer Jersey[/url] , Johnson will become a free agent when his contract expires at the start of the new league year March 14. He intends to keep playing, it just won’t be in the familiar red, yellow and white of the Chiefs.

”I love Kansas City and this fan base. They’ve always had my back,” Johnson said in a statement put out by the Chiefs, who made the rare decision to announce publicly that Johnson would not be returning.

That in itself speaks volumes to how much Johnson has meant to the organization.

”I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend 13 years in a place I love,” he said. ”I plan on playing for several more years because I love the game so much, but I look forward to retiring as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs when my career is over.”

Johnson was the Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2005, though his career got off to a rocky start. At one point early on, he found himself riding the bench, and was even labeled a bust.

But Johnson eventually earned his starting job back, and went on to appear in 182 games with 169 starts. He piled up 1,262 tackles to easily shatter the franchise record, had 27 sacks and picked off 14 passes, returning four of them for touchdowns.

He had a career-best 179 tackles in 2011, when he was voted the Chiefs’ team MVP.

”Few players in recent history have meant more to the Chiefs franchise and the Kansas City community than Derrick Johnson [url=http://www.officialstarsproonline.com/...as-ben-bishop-jersey]Ben Bishop Jersey[/url] ,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said.

”His tireless work ethic and passion for the game made him one of the most productive defensive players to ever wear a Chiefs uniform and one of the most respected players both in our locker room and around the league.

”Over the last 13 seasons, Derrick represented himself and the Chiefs organization with integrity and class, and he will always be a part of our Chiefs family.”

Johnson piled up his impressive stats despite missing part of two seasons with ruptured Achilles tendons. He returned from the first one as good as ever, earning his most recent Pro Bowl trip in 2015, but the second seemed to finally take a step out of his legs this past season.

He slowly lost playing time to younger teammates in the middle of the Kansas City defense.

”I’m grateful I had the opportunity to coach a player like Derrick,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said in a statement. ”He’s a passionate football player and a natural leader. I value the amount of quality work he put in every day for us, including teaching our younger players what it means to be a pro.

”I think he will make an incredible coach when he is done playing the game, if he chooses.”

The Chiefs have been trying to get younger the past couple of seasons, particularly on defense, and Johnson is unlikely to be the last veteran to go. Fellow linebacker Tamba Hali has been dealing with bad knees for years, and the Chiefs are expected to release him in the coming weeks.

Johnson signed a three-year, $21 million contract extension in 2016, but he had restructured the deal a year ago to help the Chiefs free up salary cap space. In doing so, he voided the final year, and that made it simple for the Chiefs to move on.

His loss will be felt not only on the field [url=http://www.officialwild.com/...arcus-foligno-jersey]Marcus Foligno Jersey[/url] , but in the locker room and community. Johnson often served as a team spokesman, always showing up at his locker to speak with reporters regardless of whether the team was winning or losing. And the role he played in mentoring young players, such as linebackers Reggie Ragland and Ukeme Eligwe, should help the organization for years to come.

”Letting go of a player like Derrick is particularly tough because of how much respect I have for him as a player and a person,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. ”He’s had a tremendous career in Kansas City and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

NEW YORK — Greg Bird was rehabbing a right ankle injury for the first six meetings between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

He carried a .191 average and several frustrating at-bats into Friday’s series opener. Then he slugged two homers and possibly gave the Yankees something to think about with the first baseman’s playing time against left-handers Chris Sale and David Price and the final two games.

While Bird could get the game off, his New York temmates will get a crack at solving Sale on Saturday night in the second game of three-game series against Boston at Yankee Stadium.

Bird posted his second career multi-homer game and the Yankees opened the series by hitting four homers in an 8-1 rout on Friday. After homering twice, Bird is batting 204 (19-for-93) in 29 games since coming off the disabled list.

“Perhaps, I think about that a little bit,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It was really good to see Birdie impact the ball. I was happy for him and that’s something that can kind of jump-start him a little bit because what we believe he brings is that left-handed on-base, power guy in this ballpark.”

If Bird is in the lineup, he will be getting his first career at-bats against Sale. If Bird is not in the lineup, it could be Brandon Drury or Neil Walker at first base.

Regardless if Bird plays, the Yankees were glad to see him homer to left-center field and right-center field against Eduardo Rodriguez in the fifth and Justin Haley in the eighth.

“It’s only a matter of time,” Yankees right-fielder Aaron Judge said of Bird. “It takes a lot of time to kind of get in that groove.”

Sale is 7-4 with a 2.56 ERA this season but rolling of late.

He is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last three starts and in the last four starts has totaled 43 strikeouts in 28 innings while allowing a paltry .155 average.

Sale last pitched Sunday when he allowed four hits and struck out 13 in a 5-0 win over the Seattle Mariners. Sale posted his second straight double-digit strikeout game, sixth this season and ended the outing by fanning Mike Zunino with a 100.5 mph fastball — the fastest pitch of his career.

This season as the Red Sox attempt to keep Sale fresh for the final months of the year [url=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/clay-matthews-jersey-cheap]Clay Matthews Jersey[/url] , his velocity is steadily increasing. His average fastball was 92.5 in April, 95.6 in May and 97.0 this month.

“I think it’s just getting back into a little bit better rhythm,” Sale said of his increase in velocity. “I’ve been saying the same thing over the last three or four starts — it’s feeling good and getting into that tempo and getting back into a little bit better rhythm than I had been starting the year. I put a lot of work into it. I’m glad where we’re at.”

If Sale posts double-digit strikeouts Saturday, it will mark the fourth time he has at least 10 strikeouts in three straight games.

“A lot of people get caught up on strikeouts,” Sale said. “They’re nice, but at the end of the day your job is to pitch as deep into that game as you can and keep as few runs off the board (as possible).”

Sale enters the game with 153 strikeouts, two ahead of Houston’s Gerrit Cole for the league lead. He also is hoping to see his teammates produce a better offensive showing after losing for the second time in eight games.

The left-hander faced the Yankees on April 10 in a 14-1 win at Fenway Park. He is 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA in 16 appearances (13 starts) against the Yankees.

While Mookie Betts was 2-for-4 and had his 25th multi-hit game, J.D. Martinez was 0-for-4 and is now hitless in his last nine at-bats.

New York will counter with Sonny Gray, who is 5-5 with a 4.93 ERA.

Gray is 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA in his last five starts since lasting 3 2/3 innings in an 11-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on May 26. His last outing was last Saturday in Tampa Bay when he allowed four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 4-0 loss.

Gray faced the Red Sox on April 12 in Boston when he allowed six runs and seven hits in a season-low three innings of a 6-3 loss. Since joining the Yankees, he is 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in three starts against the Red Sox. For his career, Gray is 1-5 with a 5.97 ERA in seven games against Boston.