Titans' Johnson enters himself into MVP race

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 5:05pm
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Chris Johnson completes a long touchdown runs against Arizona. / Mike Strasinger for The City Paper

Chris Johnson is already in the race for 2,000 yards.

But there are a couple of other races, he is ready to enter as well.

The Tennessee Titans star running back says he is going to begin his own campaign in the race to be the Most Valuable Player in the National Football League.

The last running back to do so was San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.

“I’m about to start an MVP campaign. When does the vote end?” Johnson asked Wednesday.

Johnson certainly doesn’t lack confidence. One reporter approached him about doing a survey for Sports Illustrated, and he responded, “Tell them to put me on a Sports Illustrated cover.”

Meanwhile, Johnson also says he is ready to undertake the challenge brought forth to him by Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, who said believes he can beat the Titans star in a footrace.
Word of that was relayed to him by a friend, Marquis Daniels, who is Rondo’s Celtic teammate.

“He called me and told me what Rondo was saying. So I went on Twitter and said, that’s easy money,” Johnson said. “That’s cool if he wants to lose $200,000. I had to go public with it. He must be stupid. It won’t be no close race.”

Titans teammates had Johnson winning the proposed race as well.

“Rajon Rondo doesn’t want any piece of CJ. Matter of fact, if you can get the message to Rondo, we’ll match him bill for bill, whatever he wants to do. Our money is on CJ,” linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "I am faster than Rondo. He needs to start with me or someone on defense first."

Johnson also boasted that he could beat the Celtics guard one-on-one on the basketball court as well.

“I watch Rondo. He’s a good basketball player. I definitely watch him. I’d definitely beat him one-on-one,” Johnson said.

As for the MVP quest, Johnson believes he should be in the conversation for the league’s top individual honor, though most believe that either Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees or Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre will walk away with that honor, simply because those teams have superior records.

And that is the part that Johnson doesn’t agree with, especially if he becomes only the sixth running back in NFL history to surpass 2,000 yards.

“I don’t understand,” Johnson said. “An MVP is an individual goal, because last year, my team, we had a first-round bye, went to the playoffs and all that, and they still gave Matt Ryan [Offensive] Rookie of the Year. So it shouldn’t have to go on how good your team is doing.”

Johnson was told that there is also an award for Offensive Player of the Year, but stuck to his statement, saying, “That would be good, too, but I want MVP.”

Johnson, who has 1,396 yards rushing, is on pace for 2,031 yards this season at his current rushing average per game. That is actually more yards than single-season record-holder Eric Dickerson had in 1984, when he set the league record of 2,105.

Johnson admits that breaking the mark has crossed his mind.

“Of course, you think about it, but I feel like I’m too far away to really think about it and put that first in my mind. With a game or two left, I would think about it more,” Johnson said.

It remains to be seen if Johnson will collect 2,000 yards or the NFL’s MVP Trophy, but one thing he is already collecting is the jerseys of high-profile opponents after games.

He already had Terrell Owens’ Buffalo Bills jersey after that game on Nov. 15, and added jerseys from Houston’s Andre Johnson and Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald after those games, while trading them his game jersey as well.

Asked whose jersey he wants from the Colts, Johnson replied, “I’d like Peyton Manning’s.”

Gauging Gage

Receiver Justin Gage returned from his back injury and practiced in limited fashion on Wednesday. Coach Jeff Fisher said that when Gage is fully healed that his starting position will be waiting for him, despite the fact that Kenny Britt is tied for the team lead in receptions with 33, and had the game-winner Sunday against Arizona as time expired.

“When Justin comes back and Justin is 100 percent, he’s gonna start, and Kenny is gonna play,” Fisher said. “That’s just the way things are. Kenny was playing before Justin got hurt.”

Injury update

Linebacker Colin Allred (hamstring), defensive end Jacob Ford (abdomen), safety Michael Griffin (shoulder), defensive tackle Jason Jones (shoulder) and kicker Rob Bironas (ankle) all sat out Wednesday’s practice.

Defensive end Jevon Kearse was excused for personal reasons, while defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (ankle) and Gage (back) practiced on a limited basis.