There is no questioning just how much raw talent Tennessee Titans star running back Chris Johnson has, but the lack of consistency and a serious down year statistically in 2012 had many fans wondering if the team would part ways with the pricey back.
Despite the production lull, the Titans still feel that Johnson is the future of the team, and will give him every opportunity to succeed in the NFL.
Insider Ian Rapoport reported on NFL Total Access (h/t NFL.com) that Tennessee has no desire to let the former 2,000-yard rusher go, and is instead excited about working with the speedy back on returning to his elite form:
I'm told the Titans have no plans to release him, but Johnson has, in fact, not been told that. He still seems a little nervous about his place. But no worries, Chris Johnson, I'm told he will be on the roster in 2013, working with a running backs coach in Sylvester Croom, who I know is extremely excited to work with him, as Croom told me, 'I've never worked with anybody that fast.'
Tennessee is hoping that the confidence the franchise has shown in the lightning-fast running back will set the stage for Johnson to once again regain the swagger and vision that he had over the first three years of his career.
Johnson has struggled mightily over the last two seasons—managing only 1,047 and 1,243 yards respectively—but the fact that the Titans will likely pick up the $9 million guaranteed portion of the star’s 2013 salary (h/t NFL.com) proves the team is going all-in on the running back.
Now it’s Johnson’s turn to take the ball and run…literally.
The Titans need the veteran back to produce this season because of the lack of offensive weapons around young quarterback Jake Locker. It will be up to head coach Mike Munchak to install the right offensive systems and schemes to get Johnson into the open field.
No matter how Tennessee does it—adding extra offensive linemen to the formation or making CJ2K a bigger option in the pass attack—the team’s No. 1 goal on offense in 2013 must be setting up Johnson to have a breakout season.
With the table set for Johnson to succeed with the Titans this year, if he fails again, there is little doubt the organization would consider moving in a different direction for 2014.