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Chris Johnson toots his own horn amid strong preseason

Chris-Johnson-JetsChris Johnson is entering his seventh year in the NFL and has never rushed for less than 1,000 yards in a single season. That is an impressive feat for any running back, but Johnson has been frustrating to watch since he eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark in 2006. He quickly went from being the best back in the NFL to the most infuriating.

Johnson, who will turn 29 next month, has looked very sharp over the last two preseason games. He rushed for 63 yards on 10 carries against the Bengals and 42 yards on nine totes against the Giants, giving him an average of 5.53 yards per carry during that span. And CJ sure is confident.

“That’s just what some people say, but people in this game know,” Johnson told the NY Daily News when asked about his recent decline. “I’ve never been a guy who’s had under 1,000 yards. There’s a thousand backs out there that wish they could rush for 1,000 yards. And I’ve done that every year of my career. So, it is what it is.”

The issue is Johnson could have been so much more than just a 1,000-yard guy. He has tremendous speed and talent, but he has a tendency to show up when he pleases and loaf the rest of the time. Rex Ryan has done a solid job of taking pressure off Johnson by stressing that the Jets will use a running back committee.

“Yeah, we got a couple backs here, but once the games start…” Johnson said. “Get a couple carries. If it goes good or if it don’t go good, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be in the game no more. You’re still going to be in the game throughout the whole game. It’ll work (itself) out.

“I won’t say that I’m not one of the best running backs in the league. But it’s not about trying to see who’s the best running back on this roster or who’s the best running back in the league. It’s about trying to win.”

As our friend Evan Silva reminded us, Johnson looked even better last preseason. He battled a knee injury throughout much of the season, but he still ultimate wound up disappointing. Of course, Johnson blames the Titans’ predictable playcalling for his struggles in 2013.

Bottom line? I wouldn’t trust Johnson in fantasy football or in real life. If he proves me wrong, good for him.

Chris Johnson: Titans playcalling was predictable

Chris-Johnson-JetsAll aboard the Chris Johnson hype train. Johnson will turn 29 next month and has been an average to below-average player for the past several seasons. We have not seen the explosive running back that was nicknamed CJ2K for about four years now, but Johnson’s recent struggles are not his fault. Just ask him.

Johnson, who is feeling revived with the New York Jets, told Rich Cimini of ESPN.com on Wednesday that the playcalling was too predictable when he was in Tennessee.

“When I was in Tennessee, a lot of the plays when the offensive coordinator was calling them, they were predictable,” he said. “Everybody could tell what was coming. With (Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg), the plays aren’t predictable.”

Johnson’s 2006-yard season came under former Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger. The Titans fired Heimerdinger a year later in 2010 and he lost his battle with cancer a few months after that.

While those who have studied tape will tell you Johnson has rarely given 100% effort over the past few seasons, he blames the scheme.

“It’s crazy, because after (Heimerdenger left), I bounced around from all different types of offensive coordinators,” Johnson said. “It just didn’t work out. … I had three or four coordinators who just didn’t put me in the right position. They didn’t put me in the right situations.

“Nothing against those guys [in Tennessee]. Those guys had their offense and things they liked to do. … A lot of times, some of the things we were doing were so predictable. That made it tough on the players, not just myself. It’s something you have to go through. I’m not making excuses or blaming anybody. You just have to deal with the cards that are given to you.”

Johnson added that Mornhinweg puts “playmakers in position to make plays” and that he expects the 2014 season to be much different for him. If you want to believe him and use a fantasy football pick on him, go for it. Just remember that Johnson has literally blamed everyone but himself for his well-documented tumble for the top of the running back world.

Chris Johnson thinks Titans cut him late just to be ‘nasty’

Chris JohnsonFrom the moment Ken Whisenhunt was hired to be the next head coach of the Tennessee Titans, it appeared obvious Chris Johnson had played his last snap with the team. Whisenhunt stopped short of ever publicly endorsing Johnson and Johnson had already stated he would never take a pay cut to stay in Tennessee, so the writing was on the wall.

For some reason, the Titans waited until three weeks after the free agency period opened to release CJ?K. They could have been taking some time to make a final decision, but Johnson believes they deliberately dragged their heels to mess with him.

“I think they was just being nasty to be honest,” Johnson told Sirius XM NFL Radio’s Alex Marvez and Keith Bulluck on Tuesday, via Pro Football Talk. “I love Tennessee, I love my fans and all that, but I think at the end of the day [the Titans] did me wrong.

“And I don’t know if it was, ‘Oh, we’re gonna get revenge back on you for holding out’ when I held out the whole training camp [in 2011] or whatever. I feel like they already knew they were going in a different direction, and it just baffles me that you release me after free agency is over and you wait until a couple days [before] it’s time to show up for offseason workouts to let me go.”

As PFT’s Mike Florio noted, the Titans likely held onto Johnson for a few weeks because they were hoping to trade him. A trade was a long shot given Johnson’s $8 million salary and how obvious it was that Tennessee wasn’t keeping him, but it was worth a shot. Did they care that they were hampering Johnson’s ability to negotiate with other teams? Of course not.

Whatever the case, Johnson believes the Titans will regret giving him his walking papers.

“I’m gonna make them regret letting me go,” Johnson said. “They’re gonna regret it. Trust that.”

That’s not going to happen. The Titans know what Johnson is capable of. He’s one of the most explosive backs in the league and could easily run for 1,500 yards this season. But even if he does, that doesn’t necessarily mean he was going to give it his all and do the same in Tennessee.

Chris Johnson pays Ellis Lankster for No. 21

Chris-Johnson-Jets-21

Chris Johnson does not have the option of keeping his No. 28 with the New York Jets. The Jets retired that number two years ago to honor Curtis Martin. You would think that makes Johnson’s life easier in a way, since he is forced to settle on another number and doesn’t have to negotiate with a new teammate for it. Wrong.

For whatever reason, Johnson was set on wearing No. 21 with the Jets. That number already belonged to veteran defensive back Ellis Lankster, so CJ?K had to buy it.

It certainly isn’t unusual for a player to buy a jersey number from a teammate, as we have seen guys like Darrell Revis pay a fortune to keep their number. What makes this particular situation bizarre is that Johnson wore No. 28 with the Tennessee Titans and No. 5 in college at East Carolina. He’s obviously very particular about what he likes.

H/T Pro Football Talk
Photo: Instagram/Chris Johnson

Report: Titans tell Chris Johnson he will be released

Chris JohnsonIn a development that should come as a surprise to no one, Jim Wyatt of The Tennesseean reported on Friday that the Tennessee Titans have informed Chris Johnson he will be released. The move will save the team $6 million in cap space for the 2014 season.

Johnson made it clear a while back that he would never take a pay cut to remain with the Titans. It has been relatively obvious since Ken Whisenhunt was hired that Johnson is not his guy. Whisenhunt and general manager Ruston Webster have been given several chances to back Johnson, yet they have always stopped short of saying he is in the team’s future plans. That’s because he wasn’t.

Johnson can be one of the most explosive players in the game when he tries, but he has a tendency to take plays off and not give 100% effort. There’s a reason some of his former teammates have described him as selfish.

All that said, Johnson is still only 28 years old. Despite all the criticism he has faced, the former East Carolina star has never rushed for less than 1,000 yards in a season during his six-year NFL career. He won’t get the type of money that the Titans gave him on the open market, but plenty of teams — one of which will be the New York Jets — will have a high interest in CJ?K.

Keith Bulluck: Chris Johnson has always been a ‘me’ guy as a player

Chris Johnson TitansFormer longtime Tennessee Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck says running back Chris Johnson is a “me” person as a player and never takes the blame for things that go wrong.

Bulluck was appearing during his weekly guest spot on “The Midday 180″ on WGFX Thursday and was asked by host Paul Kuharsky about Johnson not taking the time to introduce himself to new head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Kuharsky had an agenda there and thinks Johnson should reach out to the new coaches, even if Johnson is likely to be released by the team. Bulluck agreed and then went into an analysis of Johnson’s personality.

“Even if I’m not going to be on the team, just to meet him. It’s just professionalism. But, I will say, different strokes for different folks. Some people are too cool for school, some people don’t get it, they don’t get how things work. You know, CJ’s been there a while. You guys have been covering him, you know what type of person he is.

“He’s a friend of mine but when it comes to athlete, he’s a ‘me’ person. He’s a ‘me’ person when it comes to the athlete. For the years that he’s been there, it’s never been his fault why he didn’t have a good running game or why he didn’t have a good game. It was always somebody else’s fault. I’m not surprised that CJ hasn’t come in to even meet coach or see what’s going on in general. I’m not surprised by that.”

Bulluck insists that he is friends with Johnson and wasn’t trying to bash his former teammate. He even responded to someone on Twitter who made that accusation.

The assessment from Bulluck isn’t at all surprising. Johnson said in December that there was no way he would take a pay cut to stay with the Titans, which is totally fine. But he absolutely has been a me-guy on the field. He was upset when the Titans signed another running back last year. He’s blamed his offensive line for his struggles. And he said he didn’t do so well last season because of his meniscus injury.

It always does seem to be someone else’s fault. And how much of a me-first guy is Johnson? He once said he preferred the Hall of Fame to a Super Bowl ring.

Helmet smack to Eye on Football

Chris Johnson to Delanie Walker: Call the ‘cancers’ out during the season

Chris JohnsonTennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker said earlier this week that a handful of locker room “cancers” cost the team a decent season and resulted in Mike Munchak losing his job. His comments caused many — myself included — to speculate that one of the cancers he was referring to is Chris Johnson.

Johnson took offense to that. Shortly after Walker’s comments went viral, the Titans running back took to Twitter to scold Walker for not naming names.

“I usually dont do this but if you feel certain people was cancer to the team call them out and say names,” Johnson wrote. “It’s to late to mention it once season is over. Call the cancer out during the year so we can get things fixed instead of waitin and letting the team slip away #JUSTSAYING.”

It was obvious Johnson was irritated with what Walker said, though it appears the two were able to hash things out and clear the air quickly. A short while later, CJ?K redirected his frustration toward the media.

“Me and @delaniewalker82 talk all the time no shots fired we on same page but when people outside of the locker room try in say who the cancers r its crazy,” he wrote.

Given some of the selfish comments he has made in the past and the questionable effort he has put forth during games, it makes sense that Johnson would be one of the cancers Walker was speaking of. Otherwise, his future with the team wouldn’t be in doubt.

H/T LBS reader Pete M.