Johnson eyes league mark
Titan in a rush to reach 2,105
NASHVILLE - Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson appreciates being named the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for November. His goals are set just a bit higher.
He says Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record is within his reach.
Dickerson ran for 2,105 yards in 1984 for the then-Los Angeles Rams. Right now, Johnson is leading the NFL with 1,396 yards with five games remaining. He just finished November with 800 yards rushing for the best month in the league since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
That earned him the AFC Offensive Player of the Month yesterday, making him the first Titan to win the award since Steve McNair in October 2003.
“I’m pleased with that,’’ Johnson said. “I’m just trying to keep being consistent, keep doing the right thing, and continue to keep having good games and hopefully get closer to that record.’’
Consistency has not been a problem for the second-year back out of East Carolina.
He is on pace for 2,030 yards, having averaged 126.9 yards per game this season. He has rushed for at least 125 yards in six straight games, tying the NFL record set by Dickerson and fellow Hall of Famer Earl Campbell (1980). Dickerson tied Campbell in his record-setting season of 1984.
Johnson already has made NFL history by becoming the first player to average 5 yards or better per carry in each of those six games. Jim Brown did that in five games in 1958.
He has talked about 2,000 yards being a goal of his this season. Jamal Lewis was the last to hit that number in 2003, when he fell short of Dickerson’s mark and finished with 2,066 yards rushing. It’s an elite and short group to reach 2,000 that features Barry Sanders, O.J. Simpson, Dickerson, Lewis, and Terrell Davis.
“I feel like I can get it,’’ Johnson said of 2,000.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher knows Johnson is setting his sets high when asked about the running back pushing himself by setting his goals.
“I know first and foremost he wants to try to win this ballgame, that’s the most important. Anything else that comes off of that is good,’’ Fisher said.
Johnson has some extra motivation Sunday when the Titans (5-6) visit Indianapolis (11-0).
The Colts held him to a season-low 34 yards on nine carries Oct. 11 in a 31-9 loss. Teammate LenDale White split the work with him in that game, getting 10 carries for 51 yards. Johnson credits the Colts for a good job defending him, but notes the Titans had to turn to the pass after falling behind.
“I just feel this game, if we can stay close, I’ll have more carries,’’ he said.
This will be Johnson’s first game at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Titans sat him last December rather than risk an injury to the rookie in the regular-season finale with Tennessee already having clinched the AFC’s No. 1 seed. He walked on the artificial surface to the sideline but can’t wait to try running the ball Sunday.
“Every time I’m on a surface like that I’m a little bit faster,’’ he said.
Johnson’s very fast. He was timed at 4.24 seconds running the 40-yard dash during the 2008 NFL Combine at the old RCA Dome. He heard through a friend earlier this week that Celtics guard Rajon Rondo wanted to race him, and he accepted on his Twitter account.
The running back said he had to go public with Rondo’s comments.
“When you’re the fastest guy ever, that’s what kind of things you get. Everyone wants to race you. Everybody wants to take out the big dog,’’ Johnson said.