Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: What To Expect from Chris Johnson

Chad MintonCorrespondent ISeptember 5, 2011

Chris Johnson rushed 39 times for 164 yards and one touchdown in 2010 against Jacksonville.
Chris Johnson rushed 39 times for 164 yards and one touchdown in 2010 against Jacksonville.Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It was a long time coming, but Chris Johnson is finally practicing with the Tennessee Titans after a lockout and a holdout.

Johnson is by far the biggest star of the predominantly young Titans roster, but it will take a few games before Johnson reaches his 100 percent potential.  The Titans should be in good hands at running back until Johnson does get back to full game shape.

Jamie Harper had an excellent preseason filling in as the starter for not just Johnson, but also backup Javon Ringer. Harper got a ton of valuable reps with the first team offense, and made the most of them.

Ringer performed well in limited action last season, averaging nearly five yards per carry on 51 rushes. He also averaged 4.2 yards per carry in a win against Jacksonville last season.

However, all eyes will still be on Johnson and how he will perform in his first game with his new contract extension.

Johnson rubbed some people the wrong way during his highly publicized holdout, so the pressure will be great on him to perform at a Pro Bowl level all season.

Don't expect Johnson to get a huge bulk of the carries in Week 1, even though he has publicly expressed that he wants all the weight on his shoulders, which is commendable.

As commendable as Johnson's new attitude towards the team is, it wouldn't be in the Titans' best interest to push Johnson too hard in the first game of the season.

Since the Titans have two other viable running backs, the Titans should stick to the range of 15 to 20 carries at the most for Johnson. He needs time to get back into game shape.

If the Titans push him too hard, then it's almost begging for an injury. That's the last thing you want to risk after owing a player $30 million guaranteed over the next four years.

Now since this is a divisional game, if it comes down to a final drive to win the game, then Johnson would obviously need to be used freely. After all, that is why you paid him.

Frankly, every player has ground to make up thanks to the lockout, but Johnson has even more ground to make up thanks to missing all of training camp.

This is why Johnson needed to be in training camp while also pursuing his new contract. It will now be a disservice to the team that he will most likely not be able to go full speed.

The Titans shouldn't have trouble putting points up on the board even with Johnson being held below 20 carries.

They finally have a reliable passing game with Matt Hasselbeck under center, and they have a solid goal-line running back in Harper.

The Jaguars were 28th in total defense last season, including 22nd against the run.

We've also all come to know that Johnson can completely change the complexion of a game with just one carry, and he'll get plenty of opportunities to remind everyone why he's worth $53 million.

Johnson's Projected Stat Line: 18 carries, 95 yards, 1 touchdown