Write the numbers 491 and 597 down — they are the ones Titans' Chris Johnson is keenly aware of.
The first is how many yards he stands away from becoming the sixth running back in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards.
The second? That’s what it would take over the final four games for Johnson to surpass Eric Dickerson’s single-season NFL record of 2,105 yards rushing set in 1984.
“Of course, I pay attention to things like that. That’s something I want to do,” Johnson said of the milestones he is approaching. “I want to break his record, it’s something I want to do. I can’t make it my main focus, because if I made that my main focus, I’d be trying my best to make a play and that would take away from my game, and cause me not to get the record.”
Johnson is also on track to eclipse Marshall Faulk’s 2,429 yards from scrimmage. He currently 1,831 yards from scrimmage between rushing (1,509) and receiving (283).
“All records are important to me. If I can break them, I want to get them. And I feel like if I can get to 2,000 yards, I should be able to get both records,” Johnson said.
That Johnson is aware of what he needs to join the exclusive 2,000-yard club and/or rewrite several pro football records is not a surprise.
But Johnson isn’t the only one keeping tabs on the proceedings. His teammates, especially those who are blocking for him, are just as eager to see Johnson finish an elite season as he is.
Fullback Ahmard Hall said the Titans had a goal to get Johnson to the 1,500-yard plateau with four games remaining.
“Myself and the o-line, we definitely take pride in that. We definitely look at it like, ‘OK, we need this amount of yards to get here and this amount of yards to get him to 1,500.’” Hall said. “He got to 1,500 and now we have to get him to 2,000. That’s a great accomplishment for the offense, but especially the guys that are blocking for him every down.”
Even Kevin Mawae, a 16-year veteran who has seen nearly everything the NFL has to offer, admits he and his fellow lineman are keeping markers on Johnson’s accomplishments. And why not? If Johnson makes history, they do too in a manner of speaking.
“When you’re on an offensive line that has an opportunity for a running back to go over 2,000 yards, you know exactly how much you need,” Mawae said. “As an offensive lineman, you hang your hat on two things – your sacks and your rushing yards, and we’re very well aware of the fact that we’re only a little less than 500 yards away from 2,000 yards and only 600 yards away from the all-time rushing title.”
Of course, all involved say that personal goals are secondary as long as the Titans’ are clinging to some sort of playoff life at 5-7.
“We’re not gonna sit here and fret over it or whatever,” Mawae said. “Obviously, we want to win four games, but if along the way, we can secure a 2,000-yard rusher or break Eric Dickerson’s record, man, that’s something to hang your hat on as an offensive lineman. We’re well aware of how close we are.”
Johnson agrees that winning is the most important statistic in the equation. But he says it’s OK to want both wins and the record.
“I don’t have a goal that I want to get. I really want to get a victory. That’s my goal, and I want to get the record,” Johnson said. “So I’ve got to get over 140 [actually 149] if I want to get the record. So I want to average over that.”
Certainly speculation persists in just how much Johnson might be able to pad his numbers Sunday when the 1-11 St. Louis Rams stroll into town with the 28th-ranked run defense in tow. It is a defense that also is missing some important pieces due to injuries as well.
Johnson isn’t taking the lowly Rams for granted, however.
“They may be ranked 28th in the league, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to play that way on Sunday,” Johnson said. “So basically, I’ve got to give my all, and I’ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing in past weeks.”
If he just does that, then milestones are bound to be reached and records could be set to fall.