Titans trying to get creative with Johnson

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 5:07pm

The Tennessee Titans got a taste of what Chris Johnson could do for their offense during his rookie season of 2008.

And last year’s first-round pick did not disappoint, rushing for 1,228 yards and nine touchdowns, along with 43 receptions for 260 more yards.

This off-season, the Titans are looking for Johnson to do even more and become a more complete player in the process.

“I think he’s doing what people thought Reggie Bush was going to do,” fullback Ahmard Hall said of Johnson. “He can do it all. He just has to put all the small pieces together, and he can be one of the best to ever play.”

The key, according to offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, is ensuring that Johnson devotes more of himself to such tasks this off-season in readying for 2009.

“There’s some stuff we can do with him. It just depends on if C.J. works at it,” Heimerdinger said. “We need C.J. to work at it and get conscientious about it. We ran a lot of screens [last year]. Probably we’d have to work him out wide a little bit and in other places. That depends on C.J. It’s a matter of C.J. working at it.”

Johnson said that call belongs to the offensive coordinator to determine how he is used, and that he simply wants to be more involved this year than he was a year ago, whether it’s rushing or passing.

“That’s his decision. He’s got to put the plays in. I can’t put my own plays in. Whatever they throw at me, I’m ready,” Johnson said. “I can do all that. I did a couple of things, not a whole lot. … I’m curious to see what kinds of things they’ve got to get the ball in my hands more this year. I tell ‘Dinger that I want the ball more.”

Johnson figures that if he can get at least 20 touches a game between rushing and receiving he should be fine.

“The offense they had was running the ball and it was successful. Since it was successful, there ain’t no need to change a whole lot around, but everything should be better,” Johnson said. “Ever how many [touches] they want me to have, it don’t matter. I guess any time I get 20-plus touches, I should have a good game.”

Simply making the second-year jump in terms of understanding should help Johnson’s progress, says Coach Jeff Fisher.

“You’re assuming he’s going to improve from his first year to his second, and if he improves like most of them do, then, doing the same things we asked of him, he should be more productive next year,” Fisher said.

Teammates like the idea of Johnson doing more this season, and say that with his explosive 4.24 speed that he should be capable of even more of a workload in ’09.

“I think at times we were good getting him the ball out of the backfield and throwing to him, and I think we can improve on ways to get him the ball in the passing game,” quarterback Kerry Collins said. “And I think he can improve on it. He can improve on his route running and understanding of what we’re trying to get done in the passing game. He seems to be well aware. He’s a smart guy, and he’s picking up on the fact that we want to use him in a lot of different ways.”

Receiver Justin Gage sees using Johnson in the passing game and in more creative formations as a plus as well — especially if it keeps Tennessee’s most dynamic weapon in the ballgame more.

“I think we’ll start him off in the passing game, doing some stuff with him and LenDale [White] in the game at the same time,” Gage said. “When you’ve got a guy like that in your offense, you’ve got to find ways to keep him on the field.”

Filed under: Sports

9 Comments on this post:

By: jps13pat on 5/12/09 at 11:18

I'm glad we're talking about getting CJ and White on the field at the same time. We didn't do that much last year, and that really surprised me. Plus, I like the idea of lining him up any and everywhere. That would give opposing defenses nightmares.

By: TitansFan035 on 5/13/09 at 6:54

Use him as a slot receiver once in a while, for sure that is going to be a mismatch for any linebacker in the league guarantee! Teams would be crazy to line him up with a DB and leave a Lb one on one with a receiver. GO TITANS!

By: cowboyjoker on 5/13/09 at 7:38

I think this is the year the Titans come alive on offense! I can see maybe 25+ points per game. If we can keep opposing teams below 17 this year, we should be in good shape.

By: NewYorker1 on 5/13/09 at 8:02

CityPaper, please don't show this guy in the paper again until his hair is cut and his teeth are cleaned and whitened.

By: house_of_pain on 5/13/09 at 8:47

They tried to get a picture of NY1, but his head was too far up his @$$.

By: NewYorker1 on 5/13/09 at 9:36

It looks like he could use some major skin treatment as well. Perhaps a complete skin exfoliation and moisturizing treatment.

By: TitansFan035 on 5/13/09 at 2:36

Do i feel the hate up in here!!!

By: NewYorker1 on 5/13/09 at 2:52

No, I'm not "hating", but the brotha needs some major grooming. He looks dirty and like he could use a good hot bath. I mean, is it just me feeling that way?

By: courier37027 on 5/13/09 at 4:00

C'mon NY1, you are talking to board posters who, in the past, did not care how many gun fights or night club skirmishes Titans found themselves. Get a DUI? It was the cop's fault. Slap a wife? She got in the way of his swing. Strip club mayhem? The rookie cornerback was just letting off some steam. His end zone celebration antics cost the Titans 15 yards? That's okay, he was expressing himself in a No Fun League. But if the Ravens celebrate a touchdown that way, here, then woe be unto them.

Titans can be thugs as long as they win on Sundays. Rephrase: avid fans would say "we" win on Sundays, although they don't wear pads and play between the lines.

Wardrobe and appearance are the last things on some posters' minds.