NASHVILLE, TENN. (AP) - The Tennessee Titans have the NFL’s best running back in Chris Johnson, and they make sure they give him the ball.
Over and over and over again.
The back who became just the sixth player in league history to run for 2,000 yards last season now leads the league with 75 carries through the first three games. The Associated Press 2009 NFL Offensive Player of the Year had 32 rushes in last week’s 29-10 win over the New York Giants.
The only time Johnson has had more carries in a game was the 2009 season finale when he had 32 rushes to reach 2,006 yards.
It’s a heavy workload, but Johnson doesn’t seem to mind.
“We are 2-1 right now,” Johnson said Wednesday when asked on a conference call with Denver reporters if he was getting the ball too much. “Basically what they’re doing is working me right and the plays they are calling are working for us right. So whatever the coaches ask, that’s up to me and the players to execute what they call.”
Johnson came into this season as the NFL’s top rusher since entering the league in 2008. Now he ranks fifth this season with 301 yards rushing. Fullback Ahmard Hall said that only pales in comparison to the standard Johnson already has set for himself.
“If any other back rushes for 100 yards a game, they’d be praising him. Everybody expects so much more of CJ. He’s having good stats,” Hall said.
Johnson ran for 142 yards in an opening win over Oakland, and he had 125 last week against the Giants. But he’s had to work hard with those numbers boosted by a 76-yard TD run in the opener, and he had a long run of 42 in New York. An 85-yard touchdown was erased against Pittsburgh by a holding penalty.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher has talked frequently about how Tennessee has surrounded Vince Young with the most talent yet on offense. But those receivers and tight ends have been busier blocking downfield than catching passes.
Through three games, Young has the fewest pass attempts (43) of the top 32 rated quarterbacks in the NFL. But only seven have a better passer rating than his 96.9, and he’s second only to Drew Brees in completion percentage at 69.8 percent.
Fisher said winning _ whatever it takes _ it’s all that matters. The coach isn’t worried about how many carries Johnson gets.
“He’s touching the ball and playing well for us, and he’s helped us get the two wins,” Fisher said. “One could make the case that if (85-yarder) had not been called back, he could have maybe helped us get three wins in a row.”
This is nothing new for the Titans under Fisher. This franchise ranks third in the NFL averaging 124.2 yards rushing per game since the start of 1995, the coach’s first full season. So they’re used to defenses stacking defenders near the line of scrimmage.
The results show the Titans win giving defenses a heavy dose of Johnson. They are 14-4 when he runs for 100 yards or more, 22-8 when he has at least 15 carries and 8-1 when he is handed the ball at least 25 times a game.View Entire Story
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