Having been apart from his team for weeks, Chris Johnson decided to focus on team goals as the first week of the NFL’s regular season commenced.
In a drastic departure from recent seasons, the Tennessee Titans running back made no outrageous prediction in regard to his production.
“My main goal this year is to make it to the playoffs,” he said Monday. “I feel like every player can make their own individual goals but I feel like making it to the playoffs is more important.”
Typically, Johnson lays out his intentions publicly at the start of training camp. There was no such opportunity this year given that he skipped all of camp — and then some — in an attempt to force negotiations on a new contract, which he got late last week.
Two years ago, his desire was to rush for 2,000 yards (he got there). Last season he set his sights on the NFL’s single-season rushing record and potentially 2,500 yards (he did not even get close).
“I’ve been working full speed … Saturday and [Monday],” Johnson said. “Gotta work that way because the game is right around the corner.
“… I’ve just been really focusing on football and trying to get back and learn the playbook at get ready to win some games.”
Monday was Johnson’s second workout since he re-joined the team and everyone involved was optimistic that he would be able to handle a full workload Sunday at Jacksonville.
“I don’t think picking up the offense is going to be a problem for him at all,” coach Mike Munchak said. “He has learned some of the differences already. We all know it’s going to be more of a physical thing. How quickly can he slow the game down to see that it’s blitz pickups or it’s reading the blocking up front.
“… We are not going to sit here and tell you he may only get X amount of carries because it depends how those carries go. Hopefully they are all big runs and he will have less carries.”
• Johnson and Johnson: Experience was a leading factor in how the Titans dealt with the four-game suspension given to fullback Ahmard Hall on Saturday. Hall tested positive for a banned stimulant, which he says he used to keep himself awake on a long drive, early in the offseason.
Tennessee traded for Quinn Johnson, a third-year veteran who played 20 games (four starts) with Green Bay over the last two seasons.
“We didn’t want someone who had never played the game before because then maybe you are a little more nervous about how he is going to handle playing a real game for the first time only being with us for nine days or something,” Munchak said. “…We are trying to find a younger guy and he has played in a similar type of offense what they ask him to do in the run game as far as the blocking role.”
Originally a 2009 fifth-round pick by the Packers, Johnson said he unsure why that team agreed to trade him for an undisclosed future draft choice.
“I didn’t ask any questions,” he said. “I just prayed about it and this is where I’m at. … I feel like this is a better situation.
“… I think [Chris Johnson] is a great runner by himself, so I feel I can help him out.”
• Cornerback decision: Munchak said that Jason McCourty would be the starting cornerback opposite Cortland Finnegan. Alterraun Verner would be the third cornerback.
“It’s not necessarily that anyone won anything,” Munchak said. “I think you have those three guys playing at a high level. It just got to where it will start those two and knowing that all three are going to play quite a bit.”
McCourty was the starter early last season before an injury sidelined him for four weeks. He ultimately played 12 games but started only six while Verner logged 12 starts as a rookie.
The two split time with the starters throughout the preseason.
• Practice squad: The Titans filled seven of the eight spots on their practice squad Sunday and relied exclusively on players who were with them in training camp to do so.
Those brought back are as follows: running back Herb Donaldson, guard Ryan Durand, defensive end Pannel Egboh, tight end Cameron Graham, safety Robert Johnson and wide receivers James Kirkendoll and Michael Preston.
The eighth spot remains open.