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Chris Johnson looking like “Chris Johnson of old”

Chris Johnson AP

Titans running back Chris Johnson is coming off the worst season of his NFL career. In 2011, Johnson set career lows in rushing yards, yards per carry, and touchdowns. Everyone seemed to have their own explanation for Johnson’s struggles over the course of the year. Johnson didn’t look like the player he once was.

But Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported on Friday’s Inside Training Camp Live that Johnson appears to have rediscovered past elite form so far in camp. While running backs are difficult to evaluate accurately before full-contact football activities, Rapoport says the early signs are promising for the player once nicknamed “CJ2K.”

“I’ve been stunned,” said Rapoport, who is live at Titans training camp. “He looks like the Chris Johnson of old. … He’s fast, he’s in shape. Looks like he’s primed for a big year.”

NFL Network’s Charley Casserly also stated Friday that the Titans believe Johnson “came to camp on a mission,” after falling well short in 2011 of the standard he’d previously set.

The Titans are holding a quarterback competition, and their best wide receiver is recovering from his third knee surgery in the past ten months. Kenny Britt also figures to face a league-imposed suspension for an offseason arrest.

Considering the six-year, $55.26 million contract they paid him last September, it would be nice if the Titans could count on Johnson to be a stabilizing element to their 2012 offense.

If Rapoport’s instincts are correct, they should be able to do just that.

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19 Responses to “Chris Johnson looking like “Chris Johnson of old””
  1. ninefingers9 says: Aug 4, 2012 10:01 AM

    Here comes the, “I will rush for over 2000 yrds” crap!

  2. KIR says: Aug 4, 2012 10:13 AM

    Chris Johnson
    6-year $53.5 million
    2008 1,228 yards second in AP rookie of the year
    2009 2,006 yards one of only six player in NFL history
    2010 1364 yards
    3 PRO BOWLS!!!

    Chris Johnson is Proven talent and has earned every penny he’s been paid. One bad season and now he’s a bum? The absurdity of it all.

  3. obie09 says: Aug 4, 2012 10:36 AM

    He still has the talent as long as he continues to work hard. People always get on him for how he talks and what he says but you never hear about him getting in trouble with the law or anything serious. Give the dude a break and lets see how he turns out this year.

  4. finalword33 says: Aug 4, 2012 10:39 AM

    His only problem…he doesn’t have a running QB. That was the reason for his former success. In games where the QB doesn’t move as well, he doesn’t do as well, even in his 2K year.

  5. larrydavid815 says: Aug 4, 2012 10:47 AM

    I am drafting Ringer ahead of him

  6. larrydavid815 says: Aug 4, 2012 10:49 AM

    His numbers have been just going down for the past 2 years. He runs away from tackles and and is afraid to get hurt. His contract got his head

  7. larrydavid815 says: Aug 4, 2012 10:56 AM

    Barry Sanders never made excuses like him

  8. larrydavid815 says: Aug 4, 2012 10:57 AM

    Might be CJ.5k this year

  9. 61bigdaddy61 says: Aug 4, 2012 11:05 AM

    I’ll believe it when I see it in a regular season game.

  10. larrydavid815 says: Aug 4, 2012 11:06 AM

    Chris Johnson is the new Albert Haynesworth

  11. larrydavid815 says: Aug 4, 2012 11:08 AM

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/06/23/chris-johnson-compares-himself-to-lebron-james/

    Reuters
    Titans running back Chris Johnson sees himself when he watches LeBron James.

    Johnson told Jim Rome on Rome that he thought of himself while watching James and the Miami Heat win the NBA championship: Last season James, like Johnson, signed a new contract and took a lot of criticism when he fell short of his goals. This season Johnson says he, like James, plans to prove he’s the best in his sport.

    “I feel just like LeBron — a lot of people are going to be back on the bandwagon,” Johnson said. “He had a lot of haters out there, a lot of people saying he wasn’t good and things like that and just to see how he overcame that and came back this year and won the championship, it shows his hard work and dedication.”

    Johnson just barely topped 1,000 yards last season, but this season he says he wants to top 2,000 yards, as he did in 2009.

    “I feel like a lot of people have written me off,” Johnson said. “I still went over 1,000 yards but it wasn’t a CJ2K year. So a lot of people are going to write me off. . . . I want to be the first one to do it twice, that’s certainly a goal of mine to do. . . . I feel like I’m still the best back in the league. When I ran for 2,000 yards my goal was to be the best player in the league and I still want to be that. In order for my team to make it to the playoffs, make it to the Super Bowl, I’m going to have to be the best.”

    Even his harshest critics are recognizing James as the best player in the NBA now. Johnson would have to be a whole lot better this year than he was last year for anyone to even consider calling him the best player in the NFL.

  12. backindasaddle says: Aug 4, 2012 11:15 AM

    CJ got the big fat contract before last season and was too busy rolling around in the money and buying diamond encrusted “grills” and other such “juray” to remember that he was a football player. All of the sudden it dawned on him, as he was orgasming in materialism, that he was actually a football player and he was not doing his job properly. I guess he has finally come to realization that one can only have so many diamond encrusted “grills” and that his blind money lust had made him forget how to be a dominating running back. Now, after a very disappointing last season, people questioning his commitment, and fans no longer throwing roses at his feet, he… woke up. My guess is that his pride was hurt after last year and now he’s on a ‘I’ll show them!’ mission of redemption. Don’t be surprised if Chris Johnson’s career is a roller coaster of ups and downs just like this right up until the end.

  13. larrydavid815 says: Aug 4, 2012 11:23 AM

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/06/04/chris-johnson-i-am-still-the-best-back-in-the-league/

    Chris Johnson: “I am still the best back in the league”

    Posted by Michael David Smith on June 4, 2012, 6:43 AM EDT

    Reuters
    Thirteen NFL running backs ran for more yardage than Tennessee’s Chris Johnson last season, but Johnson doesn’t think any of them are better than him.

    Johnson says he considers himself the NFL’s top running back, regardless of last year’s disappointing output.

    “I feel I am still the best back in the league, and I have no problem saying that,” Johnson said, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “None of the active backs have done anything that I have done in the first four years, even though I had a bad year last year. So I still feel like I am the best back in the league.”

    Johnson isn’t happy that he was ranked at No. 100 in the NFL Network list of the Top 100 players in the NFL, as voted on by their fellow players, and he believes people have to look at his entire body of work — including his 2,006-yard season in 2009 — in assessing his talents.

    “There’s a lot of backs now who probably didn’t do anything the year before and then they rush for 1,500 yards and they are the top back,” Johnson said. “It’s crazy, really.”

    Johnson said he thinks he can top 2,000 yards again. The Titans just have to hope he doesn’t struggle to top 1,000 yards again.

  14. larrydavid815 says: Aug 4, 2012 11:49 AM

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/03/25/chris-johnson-wants-to-be-on-cover-of-madden-and-more-money/

    The folks at Electronic Arts held a contest this year to determine the identity of the next Madden video game cover athlete.

    The finalists were Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, and Saints quarterback Drew Brees. (Voting ended March 15.) But another guy who didn’t make the final trio thinks he should be the player on the box.

    Titans running back Chris Johnson.

    “No one else deserve to be there but me,” Johnson told NBC Sports Digital General Manager Rick Cordella at the Interactive Sports Conference in Las Vegas. “I set the record.”

    Johnson also said he thinks he eventually should get a big raise. “I feel like I should be the highest paid offensive player,” Johnson told Cordella. “No one has done what I have done in the league in their first two seasons.” (So, basically, Johnson told “Rick” that the Titans should “pay me.”)

    Johnson also thinks that 2009 won’t be the only time he rushes for more than 2,000 yards. “I did it early in my career and can do it again,” Johnson said.

    And, of course, Johnson had a few things to say about his speed. He thinks he should have a 100 speed rating in the Madden game, he ignores Maurice Jones-Drew’s belief that he’s faster than Johnson, and Johnson said he plans to race Usain Bolt in the 2011 offseason. (Johnson’s plan to race Bolt in 2010 possibly was derailed by the fact that Bolt apparently has never heard of him.)

    Meanwhile, Johnson had a couple of predictions for 2010. He thinks that quarterback Vince Young “can get us to the promised land.” And Johnson offered up some advice to fantasy players.

    “You have to take me first in your draft or you are going to lose.”

  15. larrydavid815 says: Aug 4, 2012 11:50 AM

    I heard he is thinking of skipping training camp for even more money!!!

  16. matthewcarlson1 says: Aug 4, 2012 12:05 PM

    Best back in the League? HA! maybe if AP and MJD retired.. wait nope he still wouldn’t be the best back in the league. Ray Rice, Frank Gore, Shady Mccoy, even Reggie Bush had a better year than CJ1K. This is a really fast guy who benefitted from an amazing offensive line.

  17. paychrisjohnson28 says: Aug 4, 2012 1:34 PM

    If you look at the history of runningbacks in the NFL…especially recently, whenever a Runningback gets a high number of carries and /or a high number of yards they always have less the season or two after their big season or they have years that spike in higher totals of yardage and yards per carry because the human body gets run down by hits and wear / tear and these runningbacks seldom bounce back in the modern era because the players and defenses they play against are faster and stronger and stack the box with 9 or 10 players at times to slow a runner down for 0, 1 & 2 yard gains with hard gang tackle hits… Name one other position in football where a player takes a beating like runningbacks do?! That said, the odds are against Chris Johnson repeating past successes but with changes to the offensive line his statistics may be better than last year especially if his quarterback is playing well. I am a Titans fan but realistic. go Titans go!

  18. chazzmon says: Aug 4, 2012 4:13 PM

    He looked awfully lazy last year, not pass blocking, standing around… he needs to step it up.

  19. bmoretitansfan says: Aug 4, 2012 5:26 PM

    As a Titans fan…I’m going take this with a grain of salt. I remember Eddie having his first year under 1000 yards. The next preseason came around. He was looking pre injury form. Managed 3.3 yards a carry but 15Tds I think. With no improvement to the interior line. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t see any improvement.

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