Oct. 14, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) -Just 16 days after Stafon Johnson's neck was crushed in a weightlifting accident, the Southern California tailback is heading home.

Johnson seemed upbeat at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center during his first public appearance since the accident. He's scheduled to be released later Wednesday.

Wearing a black USC sweatshirt, Johnson walked through the hospital easily and smiled at his mother.

Although he still has a breathing tube in his throat and can't swallow, Johnson's medical team says he's made a remarkable recovery since accidentally dropping a weight bar on his neck, crushing his throat and larynx.

Doctors don't know when Johnson will be able to speak, but they say his ability to play football again will largely depend on his own desire.