Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Holdout Shouldn't Hinder Johnson; Jaguars Prepared for a Full Dose of Titans' Star Running Back

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Holdout Shouldn't Hinder Johnson; Jaguars Prepared for a Full Dose of Titans' Star Running Back

Article excerpt

Byline: Tania Ganguli

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson waited all summer in Orlando for a new contract that would make him among the highest-paid NFL running backs.

He spent nearly all of that time working out. But that doesn't mean he'll be in football shape Sunday in Jacksonville in the season opener against the Jaguars.

"To be honest, nobody is in football shape if they're not playing football," Johnson said.

Since 2008, Jaguars-Titans matchups have been all about the running game. Titans coach Mike Munchak said he will play Johnson as much as he can but wants to be "smart" because Johnson only returned to practice 12 days ago.

And even though Johnson thinks he'll need actual football to get going, the Jaguars aren't expecting a drop-off from the man who led the NFL in rushing for the past three seasons. They'll look to showcase their revamped defense - one built to stop the run.

"We're not going to fall for that," Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. "We'll expect him to be at his best. We'll be coming after him."

Johnson held out for 35 days before the Titans signed him to an extension worth $53.5 million.

"He's a very confident guy," Munchak said. "He's a very team guy. He wants you to hear what he wants to accomplish. He wants to be the best running back. I mean, he's not bashful to say that. He wants to be very productive, and that's why we all felt that he'd be here for this opener, that he didn't want to miss a game or two because he didn't want to be behind."

The 2,000-yard mark remains Johnson's goal, even though he's already done it once.

"That's just a number that people don't get," Johnson said. "That's a good number. If you get that number, if you can say you can rush for 2,000 yards, you're the best at what you do. There's no active back in the league that's rushed for 2,000 yards. …

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