Javon Ringer showed Sunday that he does more than just take carries from Chris Johnson. The third-year running back can take meaningful carries and make them count – even on the scoreboard.
Ringer’s 10-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter put the Tennessee Titans ahead to stay Sunday in their 26-13 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
“It’s the idea that we all have confidence when he’s in there something good can still happen,” coach Mike Munchak said. “It’s not, ‘Oh, CJ’s not in the game; we can’t run the ball.’ … On the fourth-and-1 it just happened that way that [Ringer] was out there and he makes a great play.”
Ringer finished the game with 21 yards on five carries and two pass receptions for 30 yards in his first game action in more than a month. Five of those seven touches came in the second half when the Titans outscored the Ravens 16-3, and the two catches were a career-high.
He also had a 12-yard run on the go-ahead touchdown drive and started the next possession, which ended with a field goal, with an 18-yard pass reception.
“Just having a good, long layoff it kind of felt good … to not just go in there but the opportunities I had were a real blessing,” he said.
Munchak said the issue of how many touches Ringer would get this season was one of the first addressed after he assembled his coaching staff.
That group decided that Johnson’s workload the last two seasons --- averages of 337 rushes and 47 receptions – was counterproductive. Thus, the decision was made to try and reduce those numbers.
The idea is that Johnson, the NFL’s offensive most valuable player in 2009, would have a better chance to stay healthy and productive throughout the entire season.
Then, of course, injuries cost Ringer much of his preparation time. He missed the final three preseason contests and the regular season opener with hip and back injuries.
“I wanted to take advantage of the preseason games and of camp and everything with the new offensive coaches and everything,” he said. “Everything was going so well the first two weeks and then even that first drive things were going so good and then – boom – I’m out for the rest of the preseason.
“Then when I finally started to come back again, like last week, in trying to compensate for my side I kind of aggravated my back. So then I had to sit out another week.”
Consequently, his ability to lessen Johnson’s load against the Ravens was uncertain. Johnson had 65 total yards on 27 touches (24 rushes, three receptions – the most since he had 30 against Indianapolis in the 13th game last season.
“If I get tired and need a breather I come out, Javon come in and do what he got to do,” Johnson said. “Javon is a good player so we don’t feel like there’s no drop-off when he comes in the game. So, it’s just the whole situation of how we rotate.”
It is likely he will rotate in even more over the coming weeks.
“He’s a guy that can make plays, and I’m excited he’s healthy,” Munchak said. “…I’ve always been a big Javon Ringer fan. I think he runs hard. He’s smart. He can play third down for us. He’s a good blocker. He’s a great complement to Chris. So we’re very confident when he’s in the game.”