When Derrick Johnson turns on the film, he sees the progress in small doses.

“It’s being able to shoot a gap and not get hit because I’m a little bit faster,” said the Chiefs’ 34-year-old inside linebacker, who is still working his way back into form following the second Achilles tear of his career last December. “It’s inches here and there ... I feel like my movement has been better in the box, not that we’re stopping the run better. But my movement has been better.”

Johnson is so competitive that although he should be applauded for returning to full-contact practice only seven months after the injury, it is no consolation for the Chiefs’ all-time leader in tackles, someone who is clearly eager to get back to the daring, destructive and exciting force he was prior to the injury.

“It’s a different process — it’s tough,” Johnson said of his recovery. “It takes time, just because that (Achilles) tendon doesn’t have a lot of blood flow through there. I think I was stronger when I first went back to football the first time, just because I went through offseason training. I was out there through OTAs with the guys. This time I wasn’t. I had to sit down and still rehab, and come back in training camp.”

Remember, the first time Johnson tore his Achilles, which occurred in the Chiefs’ 2014 season opener, he had a full 11 months to prepare, and those four additional months made a huge difference when it came to allowing Johnson to fully trust the leg and train for speed. He also got more time to hone his on-field instincts and figure out what he could and couldn’t do long before the regular season began.