Chris Johnson was a workhorse for the team during his first three NFL seasons. The ball was often in his hands, he rarely left the field and he liked it that way, Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports.
Things were different last season. Johnson often found himself in need of a breather. He wasn’t the same running back, in large part because he didn’t feel like the same running back.
“If you go back to years prior, you can see I am in the game and I am really never coming out,” Johnson said. “Last year, I can say throughout the whole season, after two or three plays I needed to come out and take a break or whatever.
“I can’t really say for sure when I got into tip-top shape, but it was toward the end of the year. I’d say around the Tampa Bay game.”
Although Johnson got paid last September — a $53.5 million contract extension after holding out for all of training camp — the three-time Pro Bowler paid for it on the field. He got off to a slow start and finished the season with a career-low 1,047 rushing yards. In six games he failed to eclipse 35 yards.
“I expect to be better early. What people don’t understand, I got one practice with pads on and then after that it was time for the games,” Johnson said. “Honestly, when camp starts and you practice, you want to get used to being hit. I got back, and then we started playing games. …
“Things are going to be better this year. I came in in better shape, and I feel like being here really helped me a lot. I am not coming in trying to get on the same page as my offensive line, like last season. I am more comfortable. I’ll be all right, I know that.”