Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson picked up another award on Wednesday, as he was named the FedEx Ground Player of the Year.
Johnson became only the sixth player in NFL history to run for 2,000 yards in a season, when he finished with 2,006 yards this season and broke Marshall Faulk’s record for yards from scrimmage in a season with 2,509.
Johnson beat out Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings to win the award, which was voted upon by fans.
“I won the award. Thanks everybody for voting,” Johnson sent out via his Twitter feed.
Johnson appeared on WGFX-FM 104.5 The Zone from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a live interview shortly after receiving the award and said he has even bigger goals next year.
“My next thing is to get the NFL rushing record and get MVP of the league,” Johnson said.
He also revealed that the Titans’ priority in Seattle in the season finale was to get him the 2,000-yard milestone, regardless of the outcome of the game.
“They were going to get me 2,000 yards, no matter if we lose or win, because we didn’t have no chance at the playoffs,” Johnson told the station. “It was, ‘Let’s go get these records. Let’s go get 2,105.’ So basically after we got 2,000 yards, the whole thing switched to, ‘Let’s go win.’”
Johnson also spoke about his contract situation, saying that the reason he would like to renegotiate with three years remaining on his five-year, $12 million rookie contract ($7 million guaranteed) is that a running back’s time in the NFL can often be short.
There is a stat that shows running backs with more than 370 carries in a single season often begin to decline in production the following season. Johnson flirted with that mark in 2009 with 358 rushes and also caught 50 passes for the Titans.
“I feel if I do the right things in the off-season as far as working out and continue to work out throughout the season, I don’t think it will be a problem. But that’s the big thing with the contract,” Johnson said. “If I get so many carries or anything like that, a running back doesn’t play for as many years and a lot of times you don’t have time to play a whole contract out, so you’ve got to get it when you can get it.”
Don’t expect things to change too much in the Titans approach to using Johnson next season. Johnson said he was told that in his initial conversation with new running backs coach Kennedy Pola, who replaces Earnest Byner.
“He basically said he’s going to let me be me and just watch me do my thing. He said he doesn’t really feel like there’s anything he needs to change in my game,” Johnson said. “I’ve got to go about it as a player myself as far as keeping weight on and being smarter on the things I eat.”