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Johnson wants to run 2,000 yards again, and end Titans' playoff drought

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The Canadian Press
6/13/2013 6:38:16 PM
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NASHVILLE -- Chris Johnson is often asked how many yards he thinks he can rush for any season, and the player nicknamed CJ2K always responds with the same answer: 2,000.

But Johnson said he is rarely asked about his team goals and gets tabbed as a selfish player for mentioning his personal goal.

Still, he believes he can run for 2,000 yards again and help the Titans make the playoffs. His ultimate goal is helping Tennessee win a Super Bowl.

"Every year I want to rush for 2,00 yards, and I feel like if we are doing what is right and we making plays on Sunday and if I get to that yardage, I feel like we can be a playoff team and hopefully win the Super Bowl," Johnson said.

Johnson said he knows people need something to talk about, but he's surprised how much attention he gets every time he mentions his annual goal to become the first man to run for 2,000 yards in a season twice. But he said he's not going to talk about team goals when asked specifically about his personal plans.

Those team goals are why the running back entering his sixth NFL season has been a regular in the Titans' off-season program this year, getting to know all the new players Tennessee brought in to help this franchise rebound from a 6-10 season. It's been three seasons since Johnson ran for 2,006 yards and became the sixth man in NFL history to reach that mark.

It's been even longer since the Titans last made the playoffs.

"Oh, it's been forever," Johnson said. "It seems like I've never even been to the playoffs. So it's a situation that I really want to get back there."

The Titans want Johnson to have a big year too because that likely means they have done just that too.

"There's no doubt he needs to have a big year," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "We're planning on him having a big year because obviously that means things are going well for us."

The three-time Pro Bowl running back seems very happy with the changes both in the offence and the help the Titans got him this off-season. Munchak officially named Dowell Loggains as the offensive co-ordinator, and Johnson sees evidence in the playbook of turning back to a run-heavy offence after a heavy focus on passing the past two seasons under former co-ordinator Chris Palmer.

The Titans also revamped the interior of the offensive line with their first free agent signee in left guard Andy Levitre and their first draft selection in right guard Chance Warmack. They signed veteran Shonn Greene to offer up the change of pace back this team hasn't had since LenDale White in 2008 and 2009. Johnson pointed out White scored plenty of touchdowns in 2008, and that was the year Tennesssee went 13-3.

Johnson said he's also able to share with Loggains what plays he's most comfortable with, and he appreciates new running backs coach Sylvester Croom's ability to have more input into the offence with both Munchak and Loggains.

Greene ran for 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons with the Jets, and he's 26 pounds heavier than Johnson. He said Thursday that he's not worried at all about how much playing time he'll get this season. He also thinks targeting 2,000 yards rushing is a good goal for Johnson to have.

"I think he's capable of doing it, and I think everyone in this team is going to strive to help him get that done," Greene said.

The Titans do want more from Johnson. He's been working on catching passes to help the Titans move him around more while getting him out away the line of scrimmage with room to run. Johnson caught 50 passes for 503 yards in 2009, and he caught a career-best 57 receptions in 2011. But he had only 36 for 232 yards last season.

Munchak said Johnson also is a key part of their pass protection despite his size at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds. The running back knows where to be and how to buy that extra time for the quarterback.

"Can we win week in, week out without him putting up numbers and doing well?" Munchak said. "Probably not."

Johnson also knows criticism comes with playing running back in the NFL.

"If I don't rush for 1,000 yards, then I lost a step. I'm not the same guy," Johnson said. "But when I want to run for 2,000 yards, I'm being selfish. Just got to take it."

Notes: The Titans wrap up their organized team activities this week and hold a three-day minicamp next week to conclude their off-season. Munchak said some players like Levitre and RT David Stewart may be limited to individual drills. Munchak said the goal is to have players with any injuries healed up and ready for training camp.

Tennessee Titans (Photo: NFL)

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(Photo: NFL)
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